17 things i learned at 17

  1. pray out loud during worship. in october, i went to an event called revival LA where the speaker told us to pray out loud, and then simultaneously had the worship team start playing. i loved praise and worship time, but this took it to a completely different level for me. there something so special about having a conversation with God while a live worship team is singing in the background. because of how loud the music is, no one can hear what you’re praying for nor are they focused on you, so it’s a great time to be praising God through song but also talking to Him about the things burdening your heart or thanking Him for all He’s done and is doing. try it out! it sounds weird, but it’s one of my favorite take aways from 17.
  2. God’s plans for me are greater than any of my childhood dreams. eight year old bryana would’ve told you she was moving to the big apple as soon as she turned 18. 15 year old bryana would’ve said she wanted to live a life like gossip girl, aka moving to new york. 16 year old bryana was set on going to new york university to become a dietician, even though she is not a fan of science. in april/may, God gave me the opportunity to tour my dream school, deny my acceptance, and officially enroll at biola and major in psychology. though grades, sat scores, and a lack of extracurricular activities should’ve given me an obvious denial to nyu, God orchestrated an acceptance into what was my dream school to show me just how much better His way is. also, sorry for talking in third person. 
  3. sometimes God will give you more than enough signs to do something, but other times you need to step out in faith and trust His provision. if you’ve ever read my romans 8:28 blog post, you know how crazy and amazing God’s signs to me were to go to a different school for senior year. think of it like a traffic light; sometimes the green light will be so bright and obvious, other times its a faint yellow light, but it’s not red. you just need to trust the process and move forward in faith. enrolling in biola was not an easy decision. it’s expensive, and i was totally content going to community college first. but i had peace over choosing biola, even though no “love note” or sign was dropped on my lap. sometimes God answers prayers very loud and distinctly, and other times its a faint whisper.
  4. i want to be heavily involved in church ministry. this is a new desire of my heart that i know God has placed inside of me. i’ve always loved church but i had no intentions of placing my future career and plans around it. back in january, i had a christian camp retreat and my pastor asked everyone who felt called to ministry to come to the front for prayer. i didn’t go up because at the time, i wanted to go to school to become a registered dietician. i can’t even explain how or when this desire was founded, but it happened in the last few months. whether God uses me for ministry through my blog, through becoming a pastor’s wife, or through being a counselor at church with my bachelors degree in psychology, etc, only He knows! ministry has a broad meaning behind it and can be anything from walking your neighbors dog to leading worship at a megachurch. bible.org says: “the greek word in the new testament that is often translated as “ministry” is diakonia. the basic meaning of this word is “service.” it can refer to tasks as basic as waiting tables (see Acts 6:1), caring for the poor through monetary gifts (see 2 Corinthians 9:12), or proclaiming the gospel (see Acts 20:24). the term is not limited to the service of a select few appointed to particular offices within the church.”
  5. He will grant you the desires of your heart (when aligned with His will) but in His timing, not yours. an amazing example of psalm 37:4 in my life are my friendships. i prayed for years for one solid christian best friend and little did I know that at seventeen years old, He was going to give me the most incredible group of fellow Jesus freaks that have shaped and molded me into the person i am today. other desires of my heart have yet to be answered, though i am confidently sure they’re in His will. if it were up to me, those desires would already be granted, but i know one day i’m going to look back and see just why He waited to grant them! His way is s o  m u c h  b e t t e r! God loves you too much to answer your prayer at any other time than the right time.
  6. what seems like a few steps backwards may just be God redirecting your path. right before my 18th birthday, i began feeling joint discomfort and my doctors temporarily put me back on plaquenil and prednisone (plaquenil is to help my joints and the other is a steroid). i hadn’t been on prednisone for a few years or plaquenil since january of 2017. i cried out of fear that my physical health was deteriorating after being at an all time high, but then focused on the fact that He guides my path and through every season, He’s holding my right hand and doesn’t let go. though getting on more medicine feels like a huge let down and a few steps backwards, He can use this for His glory and to add to my testimony of His faithfulness and grace in my life!
  7. my life verse is romans 8:28. you honestly just need to read my romans 8:28 blog post. this verse was first quoted to me by my pastor (jason dijon lee) when i was 16, but truly felt like my life verse months later at 17 years old when God continually repeated this promise back to me through His word, songs, love notes, and in all aspects of my life from mental, physical, to emotional health. He works all things out for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. cling to that.
  8. there are still boys out there that are chivalrous and respectful of girls; find a man after God’s own heart, not just a boy who goes to church. going to a public school, seeing the way guys overly touched girls, made comments that sounded like compliments but were just degrading of a girls body, and the tainted view of how girls think guys should treat them became the norm for me and i genuinely did not know one guy my age that spoke with respect of girls, until i started going to youth group. it wasn’t until 17 that i got to develop tight-knit bonds with the guys in my youth group and got to first hand witness how genuinely respectful they are of girls. whether that be protecting me by standing in front of me when a man looks suspicious or simply offering to hold my bag- it’s just so beautiful to witness the difference between the guys i went to school with and the guys who wholeheartedly follow Jesus. 
  9. joy vs. happiness. -Nehemiah 8:10 “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” happiness is temporary. it’s an emotion that can easily be replaced. for example, i’m happy because i got pressed juicery, but sad because i finished it. i’m happy i got the new iphone, but sad because i cracked it. joy is different, it’s not founded in your circumstances but is found solely in Christ. He fills us with a joy that is not dependent on our day to day life, but on his eternal promises. promises that what He has started He will sustain, that He will never leave us nor forsake us, that He is with us wherever we go that all things work together for the good of those that love Him. joy can be found in the midst of life’s hardships and trials.
  10. ignore the prompting, miss the miracle. when God lays something on my heart, whether that be to talk to a barista and tell them that there’s a God in heaven who loves them or even when i put off reading the Bible. when i ignore the Holy Spirit’s prompting, i am missing the incredible miracle that can occur. d o n ‘ t  i g n o r e  t h e  p r o m p t i n g.
  11. i am definitely an extrovert with necessary introverted moments. i also wrote “16 things i learned at 16” in my journal and one of the things i wrote was “i am an introvert”. i think at the time it was true because i was still doing online school and wasn’t around many people outside of my family and friends. when i’d hang out with friends, i wanted to come home to be alone in my room. in this last year, i learned that i thrive when i’m around people, whether that be my best friends or the friends i make in the check out line at trader joes! i love talking and being around people, but will go through seasons of not wanting to see anyone (they only last like two days lol).
  12. get a best friend that is loyal, pushes you to share your emotions, caring, and is rooted in Christ (christian friends are no joke and take friendship to the coolest level).
  13. pray individually to the Trinity. I don’t always do this but it was really impactful to my prayer life when my friend told me he did this. an example of what this would be like is: “Father God, thank you for sending your Son into this broken world. Jesus, thank you for being obedient to the Father and dying on the cross for my sins. Holy Spirit, I pray that you fill me with peace.” the Trinity is three in one but individualizing the three created a new approach to prayer for me!
  14. surrender. this word became a huge theme in my life, from surrendering my desires, to my dreams, hopes, family, etc. to surrender is to give control back to the Controller of all things; be still, submit, and lay it all at His feet. He is sovereign and has greater things in store!
  15. God literally knew every single day of my life before the foundations of the world. reread that. God literally knew every single day of your life before the foundations of the world. what even, how wild and cool is that fact?
  16. be willing. we ask God to use us for His kingdom, but a lot of the time its a choice to be used! be willing to serve in whatever aspect that may be in.
  17. grace. 17 taught me a lot about grace. we will never be able to grasp grace. grace is God extending to us the opposite of what we deserve. it’s gained righteousness at Christ’s expense. with Jesus’ death on the cross, He purchased for us a right relationship with God which we could never earn. i couldn’t earn it and i don’t deserve it yet He gives Himself away. it’s the love, forgiveness, and mercy given to us by God. it never runs out. His grace is limitless. God’s relentless love, removal of our sins as far as the east is from the west, leaving the 99 to follow the one, are all vivid examples of how evident His grace is. God says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” i need to keep my eyes steadfast on the Lord and continuously place my hope and trust in Him because His grace is sufficient and in my weaknesses, such as my physical being, His power is made perfect.
  18. aaand bonus one because God taught me a lot this year lol: the Holy Spirit revealed Itself to me a lot this year. through endless goosebumps during worship to dreams that God spoke to me through, to so many more amazing things as i became more aware of the ever present Holy Spirit. i’m glad this is number 18 because it’s something i want to expand on and be more conscious of in this new season of adulthood. if you made it this far, props to you and thank you for reading! 🙂




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