Lessons Learned the Hard Way | Growing Pains

Growing Pains | An AMH Blog Series

Growing up isn’t easy. This month we set out on a journey to explore the rocky road of each other’s life lessons. We shared the heartache, the embarrassing stories, and the things we wish we had known when we were younger. As women, we have a lot of pressures surrounding us and a lot mistakes to be made. But we also have a lot to learn from each other if we only take the time to listen.

What lessons did you learn the hard way? About God? Life? Love? We asked our friends and readers to share their life lessons, and as the advice came in, we literally got goosebumps. It lifted the hair on our arms and the joy in our spirits to read about the ways God works in so many women’s lives. He speaks to each of us in our unique stories and situations. So let’s learn from each other. Listen to each other. And thank God for the work He has done in each of us.

Proverbs 12:15, “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.”

God is real.

Erica Rose – Wayland, Michigan

God is real, and He loves you more than you could ever imagine.

Shannon Olson – Vader, Washington

Seek God first with all your heart, then do what you love and follow that heart. Read through the whole Bible once every year in your youth, if you can. God will use it powerfully to shape guide and direct your life.

Anna Raisch – Holland, Michigan

This year I have really learned that we have a lot more control over our thoughts than we realize. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” It is easy to get sucked into negative spirals of thinking: I am not good enough, God isn’t working, everything in my life feels hard right now, everyone is dating except for me, etc. When you recognize thoughts of anxiety, doubt, or comparison, don’t dwell on these thoughts, but instead claim truth about who God is and who you are in Him. Sometimes it helps to say those truths out loud. Reshape your thinking through gratitude (make a list of how God is working in your life or of little things in your day that you are thankful for), praise, and the declaration of truth.


People are messy.

Kim Kim Andrews – India

Something I learned the hard way and still have to constantly remind myself is that everyone gives and receives love differently – including me. And people are not mind readers. It’s always helpful to tell people how you prefer to be loved and to be conscious of how others prefer to be loved, rather than jumping to assumptions about what someone would prefer. Talking things out is super important.

Sue Yerke – Freeport, Michigan

Don’t expect everyone to approach how they do things the same way you do. Everyone is unique and has their own style. Example: I am very punctual and didn’t understand why everyone else wasn’t. It could be the way people use their money. Or it could be their self-discipline when it comes to studies versus social media. You can’t control what people think, their spirituality, their life choices, but you can control how you love them. 


Life is hard.

Olivia Heath – Grand Rapids, Michigan

My biggest piece of life advice would be to recognize the low points in your life as bad times, not a bad life. so often we think that once something goes wrong, our lives are bad. but in order to find joy amid the struggle, I’ve found it so helpful to remind myself that it’s not a bad life, just a bad moment in a great life. “Joy comes in the morning….” it might be many mornings from now or it might be tomorrow morning, but joy. will. come. Because with Jesus, there is joy.

Nikki Leestma – Grand Rapids, Michigan

God prunes for our growth in the right direction (Taken from John 15).
Growing up I had thought that pruning was something that was done to the dead branches. To the things that are completely sinful and rotten, that nothing good could come out of. No fruit. But, over the last two years God has shown me that sometimes he prunes away good things from our lives to draw us back to him, the living waters and source of all power and wisdom. He cut at my dreams. He cut at my relationships. It was extremely painful (like cutting something off would be) but it drew me to Him. To find my strength from Him. To drink from His living water. To not put my hope in something so temporary. Or in more garden-y words: to take my hope out of the buds that I dreamed would be beautiful flowers and move it to the root, the sustaining power behind everything. I had placed too much on these dreams and people. They had become my hope. And God knew that in order to draw me back to Him, these things had to go. So go they did. It is a painful process, but one needed in order to survive. Without the root, we are all but dead branches, unable to bear any fruit.

Shannon Olson – Vader, Washington

Don’t follow the trends, set them. I have never once wished I had partied more, dated more, drank or tried drugs. But I have talked to many adults who look back and have regrets about many or all of these things.

Sue Yerke – Freeport, Michigan

Going through the valleys in life are seasons that you will grow so much closer to God and learn more of Him. Lean in. God is good all the time, trust that all things can be used to glorify Him and that His timing is always perfect. Seek out a solid Christian mentor for encouragement.



Love is intentional.

Masey McKennen VandeSteeg – Grand Rapids, Michigan

Your boyfriend/husband is not God. Stop idolizing him and put your faith in the Lord. If he’s who you’re meant to be with, you both will grow in God before you can ever grow together.


Anna Raisch – Holland, Michigan

Everyone always tells you not to date an unbeliever, and it seems likes this should be so easy to follow! But, when you really care about someone and they care about you, it can be easy to lead them on or deepen the relationship, even if you aren’t using the title “dating”. You are not wrong or sinning when you like someone who isn’t a Christian. However, you need to stand firm with your convictions and cut off a romantic relationship with someone who doesn’t love Jesus. Be up front with the other person about why you can’t date, even if this conversation is uncomfortable. It is easier to make this decision when you have pre-established standards for dating, because in the moment, emotions easily sway you.

Emily Dilly – Grand Rapids, Michigan

Every year I get older, there is joy in the discovery of how life works… How my faith is being molded… How God is manifesting himself in my everyday moments. I think the biggest lesson I have learned as of late, and this one is geared towards newly-married young women (like myself) is that loving your spouse is a choice, not a flowery feeling. Love is an ACTION that you choose each day, and sometimes each hour, to serve your spouse.

It’s very easy to get caught in the dangerous loop of selfishness as the years of your marriage go by. I am guilty of that. My husband is guilty of that. In our pre-marital counseling, we were encouraged to be seeking ways to serve one another always, not expecting things in return. This seems basic, but it is so very vital to the health of my own marriage. Does that mean, put on an apron and serve him coffee? I mean, no… But it could be! The idea is to meet his needs… Be selfless and look for ways to be of service to him.

Service is at the heart of any love-based relationship! That is what I have learned. And, by CHOOSING to serve your spouse, you draw nearer to God. And the side effect of that? You draw nearer to your husband.


Shannon Olson – Vader, Washington

In your youth focus on developing the person God made you to be and the gifts that he gave you. Rather than looking for your future mate, pour your energy into friendships with other girls and young ladies that can be lifelong and continue to be a support network for you after you do marry and start a family. Old boyfriends won’t be any help then!


Wendy Impellizeri –  Alto, Michigan

Not original to me but in the season in which God has placed me the advice from Mark Batterson is timeless:

“You’ll never be a perfect parent, but you can be a praying parent. No matter how many things you get wrong as a parent, there is one thing you must get right— and that one thing makes all the difference in the world — Make sure our Heavenly Father hears about your kids every day! Prayer turns ordinary parents into prophets who shape the destinies of their children, grandchildren, and every generation that follows. Our prayers don’t have expiration dates— they don’t die when we do. God will keep answering them long after we are long gone.” Mark Batterson


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2 thoughts on “Lessons Learned the Hard Way | Growing Pains

  1. Love God enough to let him use you. Ask for an appointment in time when you have a spare moment and see what God will do.

    1. Thank you, Joy! What a great piece of advice. We need to make room in our lives for God to move, don’t we? “Love God enough to let him use you…” What a great reminder!

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