Wednesday, August 28, 2013

On Turning 29

It's almost my birthday, and I'm almost thirty. It's one of those markers, a before and after. I'm sitting in the middle of what I hope to be very different decades of myself, old enough now to say I'm "reflecting on my twenties" and trying to determine the course for what's next.

I would say that most of twenties were spent learning how to stand up. What does it mean to live my own life and be my own person? What does it mean to be different, to think differently, to react differently, to have had a different experience than those around me? I formed my own thoughts and strong opinions. I made my own plan and I worked it. I got married and we struck out together. So much newness and trying things for the first time. My first real jobs, my first real failures, my first real disappointments and triumphs. There are so many choices to make in your twenties. So much adventure and drama and so much learning about the world and yourself and God. And in all of this, the slow rise of my own voice. There has been a lot of anger and cries for justice. There has been a lot of asserting myself, creating boundaries, and work towards forming a community of people I love who love me. In this last decade, I have made the choices, built the foundation, set the course. Stood up. There was a lot to learning the act of getting up.

And then, the last few years have been about staying up. Standing still. Standing firm. Standing on God when everything I worked so hard to make for myself falls away. Leaning on others when I can't take it another moment by myself.

And now, in this year on the brink of 30, a new phrase has entered entirely. Not get up or stay up, but, bow down. Bend the knee.

Phil and I took a trip to Minnesota a few weeks ago to attend my college roommate's wedding. We walked around my college campus one afternoon. Being with Laura at her wedding, seeing how far and different our lives had come from those days in our dorm rooms, walking sidewalks I walked as a nineteen year old, I couldn't help but reflect on how different my life might have been in a million ways. I might have picked a different major, different friends, boyfriends, social groups, activities, housing, jobs. It all could have been so different. I thought about how I didn't know any of this at the time. I thought about how then, all those doors were wide open and there was this tremendous and exciting energy and boundlessness about the future. It struck me how different it is now. I still, obviously, have choices. But it is not the same. I have set the course.

This is my life.
This is my life!

It is something I've both had to grieve and celebrate. Maybe this is what every turning of the decade should be for a person: an acknowledgement that many doors are shut, and a celebration that I love the doors I've walked through.

I look around my devastatingly messy house as I write this, and I think, this is my house. This is no longer some duplex I am renting for 3 months and passing through. This is my chosen, beautiful, gift of a house. I think about my husband and I think, this is my husband. My chosen, incredibly talented and kind, gift of a husband. I think about my church, my family, my friends, my LIFE, and I think, okay. The time for always thinking of change and what the next door is, that time is over somewhat. Now, the task is not to make my way or create something new. The task is gratitude. The task is taking care of what I have. The task is worship, acceptance, and daily service and maintenance to this life I have been given and have made.

My twenty year old self would be in full scale eye roll to read this, but I seriously think that a large part of my thirties will be about discipline and housework and loving my husband and friends well. It will be less about opinions and more about community. Less about making my own way in the world and more about allowing God and people space in my life, as they come and not as I would have them. Hopefully I can learn to offer myself this grace as well. Less demanding, more inviting. Bowing down, not in oppression or fear, but in gratitude and graciousness and worship.

I am amazed that this sounds good and right to me. God is strange and surprising, and I am up to follow. Let it be so.  


  1. this is the best birthday post ive ever read.

  2. I love it.
    Less demanding, more inviting.
    We may live far apart, but our hearts are in synch.