Today is my birthday, and I feel good. Nice change from last year – I kind of crashed into a new decade last year, and there was no grace in my aging. It was rough. I think I had a bit of a midlife crisis.
This year feels much more comfy, though. I can be friends now with this stage of my life – it just took a bit of time to adjust. But I have thought a lot about aging in the last year. We live in a culture obsessed with youth, and it doesn’t seem like there’s a lot to guide us in how to age well.
I’ve watched people, asked questions, done some reading. From what I can see, it looks like either people don’t think aging is a big deal, and do well with it, or they live in denial and don’t do well with it. Obviously, I want to learn secrets to a happy life of aging gracefully from the first bunch, but often, they don’t know what to say, because they’re not really doing it intentionally – they just naturally seem to have a good attitude about aging, and don’t know what tips to pass on. Just be fine with it!!
It sounds easy, but I don’t know if I’ve ever had an easy time with emotions surrounding anything important – it’s ALL a big deal for me. The “Naturally Awesome At Aging” category is not where I find myself.
There have been two parts to my aging crisis. The first was that I just worried a ton about the future, and all the terrible possibilities it could hold as I get older. But God has been teaching me a lot about this in the past year, and I’m so thankful to feel more peace in this area of my life. Worrying can still be a temptation, but I’m learning to resist more often.
The second part of my aging crisis was trickier for me to identify. I’ve been thinking a lot about my purpose, what I want to accomplish in my life, and what my focus should be. I felt a bit like I was floundering a bit.
For basically my entire life, I’ve dreamed of getting married and having three kids. It was what I always wanted. I’ve done some other great things along the way, but marriage and kids were always my deepest desire.
It took us a little longer than expected to reach that goal, but after Everett was born, I found myself in such a strange place of having everything I’d dreamed of, and not really having a clue what was supposed to happen next. I mean, obviously I’m going to love, enjoy, and take care of my husband and three kids, but I didn’t have new dreams to look towards.
So last year on my birthday, I realized I was entering a new decade without any idea of what to dream about next, and it felt weird.
But at just the right time, a message series came my way which made sense of a lot of things for me. I’ve mentioned the Bridgetown Church podcast about a million times since I discovered it. I LOVE John Mark Comer’s preaching, and his recent series on the second half of life is just fantastic.
The series is about how we spend the first half of life working on our outward journey – who we’ll be in the world, if and who we’ll marry, having kids, pursuing a career, and making all the big life choices about the “container” in which we’re going to travel the world.
But the second half of life is about the inward journey – facing the deeper inner parts of ourselves that take maturity and hard work to face the things which aren’t so obvious to the people around us.
John Mark spoke about how our culture focuses so much on youth that we don’t see how rich and deep and beautiful life becomes, the further we go into the second half of life. In fact, he shared how his mentor told him his 60’s were the best years of his life. His 50’s were second best, and 70’s were third.
Who talks that way?! Mostly, we just hear nasty jokes about how “it’s all downhill from here!” and stuff like that.
I met someone last summer who said he just can’t wait to be an old grandpa, and drive his lawnmower around all day. He said it’s the part of his life he’s most excited about.
I love it. I can’t say that kind of stuff for myself, but I want to learn to anticipate all the good stuff yet to come.
And I realize now that I felt like I was floundering because I had my “container” figured out, but I needed to clarify the switch from my outward journey to the inward one. Of course, anything that happens inside will most likely show itself in an outward sense at some point. But for the most part, it sounds like a beautiful, private adventure in becoming more like Christ, learning to pursue Him more intentionally as I grow and age.
So as I sit here on my birthday, it feels like each passing year is looking more like an invitation to something exciting and intriguing, instead of a temptation to feel worried and afraid about the future.
I have loved my first half of life. God has been so good to me, and my “container” for the journey has turned out well. I love the people I get to travel this journey with, and I’m so thankful for all the lessons I’ve learned and adventures I’ve had along the way.
I’m ready for the second half! (A year late, but sometimes we all need a bit of time!)