Yesterday marked the end of my first forty years on this earth. Or, I guess we could say, the beginning of my second forty years on this earth. Either way, it was my 41st birthday. I can’t believe I just typed that.
For those of you who’ve been with me for a while, you may remember my reaction to turning forty last year. If not, you can check it out here. In a nutshell, I didn’t handle it with the greatest of maturity, at least not at first. Let’s just leave it at that.
This year, however, I am older and wiser and much more mature. Ok, I’m not, but I didn’t flip out about the older part, so that’s a start. Plus, I had an amazing day. How can I complain? How can I be anything less than ecstatic at a day filled with love and cards and messages, surprises (many of them quite sparkly) and calls, singing voice mails and hugs and laughter? I am blessed beyond the telling by the people who surround me, who make up my tribe and lift me up while keeping me grounded.
Even our favorite sushi chef got in on the action at lunch yesterday, gifting me with this gorgeous and delicious concoction. Check it out.
As I celebrated throughout the day, surrounded by friends and family, I kept finding myself in a state of bemused wonder. What an amazing thing it is to love and be loved. We can never forget that, or take it for granted. It’s pretty much the point.
Recently, the women at our church completed the Seamless Bible study by Angie Smith (I cannot recommend this one enough. If you haven’t already, go get it.). One of the points she makes in it is that throughout the Bible, when there is a 40 year stretch, it’s always a time of learning. I found that incredibly interesting. So as I round the bend, coming out of my first time of learning, I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned so far.
Life is as precious as it is unfair
Acknowledging both of these truths helps the bitter with the sweet. We aren’t promised fair – we are promised meaningful, blessed, hope-filled, purposeful, God-ordained, and many other descriptors…but not fair. Along the way, we hopefully find joy, peace, community, fun, adventure, and Calling. But, fair? Not a factor. Never has been, and expecting it to be robs us of the amazingness that is.
Seasons don’t last
None of them. Change is as irrevocable as it is inevitable, and when I let this scare or intimidate me, I miss out on new blessings and opportunities. When I cling to how it’s always been at the expenses of what could be, I minimize where God’s taking me or those around me. It’s not always fun – aging isn’t easy for me, that’s the diva talking. The stretching and growing of relationships doesn’t always go the way I wish it would. I can’t always see the finish line, and even when I do, I’m not necessarily on track with the end point anyway. I’ve learned that seasons of crippling insecurity, heartbreak, or disappointment often preclude my times of greatest joy and growth, and serve to give me empathy for others as well as the ability to recognize this struggle in them. They stretch me in ways I’ve never wanted, and force me to view things through a lens of increased patience. I’ve learned to enjoy the good times, power through the bad ones, and get ready…because I never know what’s around the corner.
My agenda can wait
This has been a tough one, and I’m far from done learning it. I’ve always been a task-driven individual, but the longer I live, the more I’m discovering that people outrank my to-do list….without exception. I may not get this one right (confession – I don’t get this one right more than I care to admit), but I know it to be true. My ability to multi-task and my energy both have limits, which never ceases to surprise me for some reason. I’m becoming less organized and able to juggle details, which is shockingly frustrating, and I openly ask for grace and prayers in this area. On the other hand, my heart for people has grown exponentially. I love the whole messy lot of them, and just want to make that clear to everyone in my life. I can’t stand the thought of broken hearts that come from the insecurity of not seeing your self-worth, or an inability to accept unconditional love; of loneliness that is a side effect of tenuous connection to others and fractured family or community ties. My husband and kids need me to live this every day. The people I do life with need to see this as the norm. They need to know that I can take my eyes off of my list long enough to really see them, and that they are the priority. If that means laundry doesn’t get put up, or the entryway isn’t painted, or my blogs are published late….well, what else is new?
People are broken
Including me…and that’s ok. God makes no bones about the fact that He knows this, He sees this, and He loves us anyway. He’s also pretty clear that we are to love each other in spite of the mess. Hurt is inevitable in this life, and the more connected to others we are, the more vulnerable we are to becoming collateral damage as they blow through life. It doesn’t make it right. It certainly doesn’t make it easy, especially when the source of hurt is someone dear to your heart. The choice is simple – be right, or be connected. We rarely get to do both. And chances are. we’ll spend a fair amount of time on both sides of that fence, so be careful how quick you are to lock down the decision.
Wonders never cease
While I could wax poetic on this one for a good bit, the current example I’m living will do. My family is full of surprises. They are funny and spicy and often impulsive, with big expectations….such as coming home with a kitten as a surprise and expecting me not to freak out. Apparently, the plan is that even though my entire existence up to now has been clear in knowing I am not a cat person, the next time of growth will be spent learning to become one. I think we were all taken aback by my lack of negative reaction. It was getting down to the wire on pet begging from Drew, and my choices were this or a parrot. I think I picked this battle wisely, don’t you?
Mostly, I’m just grateful
I really am. I’m grateful to God for every day, every person, every gift, every opportunity in my life. I’m humbled that He has chosen me as His daughter. I’m blown away that He loves me in a way that, when I catch on and hold to, allows me a sense of joy and purpose and connection that boggles my mind.
It’s a good life.
And so, my theme for Year 41 of Rebecca’s Time on Earth will revolve around one of my favorite verses.
James 3:13 – Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in humility that comes from wisdom.
Wisdom, and humility…shown in a good life. My good life, filled with so many good people and so much good love, under the sovereignty of our great God. Not a bad way to kick off the next phase.
Solidarity, sisters. Let the new Time of Learning commence.