Middle age has found me!
I can no longer avoid it or hide from it. No sense in denying it. This Friday will mark my fortieth birthday. Someone out there in the cosmos has said they refused to turn forty, instead they are turning thirty-ten. While clever, it still equates to the same thing. Youth is over, young adulthood has flown by, and I am now officially entering into the stage of life known as middle age. And it is okay.
Thinking back over my life so far, I see that I have a lot to be thankful for. A good marriage that has survived over twenty years and counting. A healthy son who is now fourteen and entering into high school this fall. God has been gracious and with a lot of hard work we have overcome most of our financial struggles (including bankruptcy and foreclosure) and have been blessed with a beautiful house that is the perfect place for us to call home.
The coming years will bring us the frustrations of parenting a teenager, and we expect to have trials and tribulations but we are a family and we will take each trial as it comes. I think what I am realizing the most is that this is a time of also trying to prepare for the transition from care taker to supporter as our son finishes his high school years and sets out to conquer his own path.
As my thoughts skip about on the path of yesterday, things I thought would be impossible to recover from we have since recuperated. A lot has been accomplished as well. A stable job, an associate degree and most of a bachelor’s degree, leadership programs and intentional discipleship programs. This blog.
Do I think that the struggles are over? Not a chance. Life happens in living the moments of ordinary days and living is never perfect.
Thirty-Ten will come with new challenges to take on and I can’t help but look forward to what I hope my life will be and won’t be. The loss of one of my aunts last summer has made me realize how fleeting our time on earth is, and I don’t want to spend my life at a job that I don’t absolutely love. Work life shouldn’t be something that we settle for.
I want to eventually take a new career path that leads me to a place where appreciation is felt and that brings me pleasure daily; to enjoy what I do so that I don’t feel like I am working my life away. Instead work should be able to be something I am truly passionate about so that each day begins with excitement to start the day’s tasks.
Recently I was certain God was leading me to this dream position. There was an opening for a job that seemed to be tailor made for me. It cobbled together all of the unrelated experiences from the different segments of my personal interests and professional careers. It was like all of the different puzzle pieces of my life were being put together to create the most beautiful picture of contentment and shalom in a new career direction. But alas, it was not to be.
I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t distraught to find this out, but I know that the Master of all the puzzle pieces of my life still has a beautiful picture that will be completed for me. I just have to wait and trust that when the time is right, the doors will open to a new adventure that will take me places I could never even begin to imagine.
This can happen. History is full of people who were able to change directions and begin careers that were based on their passions, not just getting by. Many of my own personal heroines appear in this list:
Laura Ingalls Wilder – didn’t start writing until her fifties for newspaper columns on farm life and didn’t begin her Little House books until her sixties.
Louisa May Alcott – worked as a domestic servant, and then as a nurse during the Civil War and was thirty-six when Little Women was published.
Lucille Ball – she had a successful modeling and movie career, but it is her television shows that we remember her for. Lucille was in her forties when she decided to give tv a try with the show I love Lucy.
Julia Child – didn’t begin cooking professionally until her late thirties and was forty-nine when her cookbook was published.
Turning forty isn’t the beginning of the end. It is the beginning of a new and exciting decade of life. Life lessons from the past free up expectations and constraints for going forward. I am more content both in myself and with my life.
Going into the great age of Middle, I choose to focus on my health, my family, and simple pleasures. Gone are the high ideals of success from my youth.
Somewhere over the past decade I feel like I lost pieces of myself trying to live up to worldly definitions of success that society has created. I have learned it is more important to focus on being grateful for what I have and where I am than to be constantly hungering for more.
I intend to spend this next decade finding myself again, forgetting who I thought the world wanted me to be, and embracing the person God has created me to be.
Thirty-ten, forty… poTAYto, poTAHto…The middle is here, and with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).
So I say bring it on!
I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9, NRSV)