What I Knew at 25 that I Don’t Know Now


Tomorrow I turn thirty-five.

I know, I know, thirty-five is the new twenty-five, and all that good stuff. Let’s be real: it’s not, but that’s okay. I didn’t feel twenty-five when I was twenty-five. I had two kids and was teaching full-time and caring for a newly owned home and felt a whole lot more like thirty-five than twenty-five. 

Now I really am thirty-five; and to be honest, other than the fact that I’ve added two more children and we’ve moved for the twelfth time, not much has changed–except my metabolism (slooooooowwww), dress size (creeping), and the location of my boobs (drifting somewhere south), but that’s a post for another day.

Strangely, one part of me that has changed is the part that used to know everything. I now know a whole lot less than I used to.

Funny how that happens.

Maybe it’s maturity, or maybe I’ve just given up trying to figure it out.  But so many things I was positive were true at twenty-five, I now shake my head over. 

The top five:

1. Few are the Saints, and the Road to Hell is Wide

I used to think there was only one group going to Heaven, and those were the Evangelical, Republican, straight and straight-laced, WWJD bracelet wearing, white people. Okay, so maybe not only white people, but still.

Then I started reading my Bible. 

I’m blown away by people who read the Good Book and aren’t completely wrecked by it. And not wrecked in a good way. Wrecked in a, “What the hell do I actually believe?” kind of way.

If you don’t believe me, read through the entire Bible with an open mind, no preconceived notions.

Then get back to me.

2. Mothers ALWAYS Should Be Home to Raise Their Kids

I do still have my belief that, in the first few years of life, your baby would love nothing more than to snuggle up with you in bed while you binge-watch Dr. Phil and the Real Housewives.

But for real. Who can do that these days?

Some of us have to work; some of us want to. I no longer care because I woke up one day and realized it’s none of my business how you raise your child, just as it’s not your business how I raise mine. As long as we’re doing the best we can, our kids are going to be okay.

Perfect segue to this:

3. Parents are ALWAYS to Blame for Their Children’s Issues

I really wanted this one to be true. I really wanted to be able to blame my parents for all the dumb decisions I’ve made.

But the older I grow the more I believe if we’re going to start blaming people for our problems, we might as well take it all the way back to the Garden.

Your parents’ choices might make you vulnerable to some bad decisions, but ultimately, most decisions are yours for the making. 

Somehow I’ve managed to make a lot of bad ones.

4. Marriage is Forever

I have an upcoming post about this, but I used to think my mom’s and dad’s divorce was the source of all my insanity. Funny how, at the same time, I would also say I was relieved they finally separated.

Relieved and angry at the same time.

Small glimpse into my twisted mind, people. Small glimpse.

It took me years to figure out I wasn’t angry about their divorce. I was THRILLED they divorced. Did they make all the right choices after? Nah. But I’m alright.

Sometimes marriage ends. It is what it is.

5. I’m in Total Control of What Happens to Me

It’s amazing what giving up a faulty image of God has done for me. The best thing it’s given me is an acceptance that I’m not in control of everything, and in some ways, I’m not in control of anything.

Twenty-five year-old Toni thought she could juggle and catch all the apples she tossed into the air–marriage, family, career, parenting, spirituality. I’d get so angry because I’d think, “If only I did this and this,” or, “What if so and so did that or that, then life would turn out like…(insert perfect life here)…”

Life doesn’t work that way.

Sadly, we are all one paycheck, disaster, or diagnosis away from catastrophe. We are one bomb drop, theater shooting, or car accident away from life changing. We are one loss away from being a completely different person. That’s life.

My father once told me, Life is just a series of crises with a few moments of peace scattered in between. I’m starting to believe this more everyday. 

And I’m beginning to think we cause quite a few of those crises by trying to control situations, people, and events that are completely out of our control.

We are not God. We will never be God. We see such a small part of a really big picture. The older I get, the more I’m learning to embrace the unknown. And in doing so, I’ve learned to lean into God more than ever before.

What have you learned in your thirties, forties, or beyond that you didn’t know before? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to Facebook me, contact me via my Contact page, or comment below.

As for me, I’m not sure thirty-five will be anything like twenty-five.

I have a feeling it will be so much better.


3 thoughts on “What I Knew at 25 that I Don’t Know Now

  1. Oh, wow. Just. Wow. Beautiful, touching story. Women and men like you amaze me! And you know what? If we didn’t have those painful times, we could not look back on life with such clarity and gratefulness and maybe even a sense of accomplishment. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Just wanted to share on the article you posted on how we are one loss away from being a completely different person. I never knew that at 25 my life would consist of being a single mother, trying to finish college and being guardian to my dying mother and father. I thought, I’ve got this, I can do this. The loss of my parents affected me in so many ways at the time. I never knew how much, until 10 years later I wept like a young child at the anniversary of both my mothers death and nine months later my fathers. I look back and wonder how in the world I was able to rise to the occasion and do all the things I did at 25, including planning 2 funerals. At 35, I realize I’m not a caretaker, I’m a mother, wife, still a daughter, sister, and friend. My life didn’t go in the direction I had imagined but I look back now and know that I am forever changed and I am a completely different person from all of the things I’ve gone through. How could I not be?

  3. This….
    That faulty image thing….. And the reality of how close we all are to disaster. Yes, it is what it is. Well said. Love you bunches. Hang in there. Let’s eat cake.

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