(I wrote this mid-2018 and apparently forgot to post it. It’s fine, because it’s truer now.)
I’m not on Facebook and I don’t read many blogs so I’m not sure what the hot topics of discussion are nowadays on the world wide web.
In real life, I’ve been in a lot of conversations about dreams and their interpretations because I have a friend who is really into that. Plus I just completed a Bible study on the book of Daniel so we dove into some weird dreams.
On our campus, we have been in an ongoing discussion about sexual identity. It’s been hard and sad and really good. Surely other churches and organizations are having these hard and good conversations too. If you’re not, now is a good time to start.
Hj and I have been talking about money a good bit. Friendly chit chat, you know.
This morning I went to IHOP with a friend who is 69 years old and we talked about the vision and mission statement of her life, which she’s been working on writing down. We talked about the new Supreme Court justice too. She told me she remembers when coffee was 20 cents a cup.
One thing I haven’t been talking about out loud lately is what it’s like to be middle aged. Being young was very exciting to me. I loved the feeling of having my whole life ahead of me, lots of discoveries and changes to look forward to. I’ve always been pretty eager to be old and wise, but never looked forward to the boring part in the middle, appropriately known as “middle-aged.”
Now that I am in the beginning stages, I have found it much more interesting than I expected. I feel like it might be the best of both worlds: young people respect me and old people take me seriously. It’s perfect! (I don’t know if young people actually respect me because they tend to hide those feelings so I’m basing that one on some assumptions/hopes haha.)
Some days I laugh because I feel so unprepared for the middle-aged temptations. I just want to settle down with a big house and a beautiful backyard and have a pristine bathroom. I want to have the same friends for the rest of my life, and never move again. I want my kids to go to the same school for 18 years and never have to deal with change. The American Dream seems pretty appealing, and that’s coming from someone who has scoffed at the very notion for 31 years. These are my temptations! I just want to be comfortable and never have to think about money.
The other day we went to a friend’s really nice house and on the way home Hj confessed he had lusted after their big plastic storage bench under the deck. It was right next to the pool, and it held all their swimming paraphernalia. It seemed an absurd and funny thing to covet, but I understood, especially since we keep all our swimming paraphernalia in a canvas bag that really doesn’t have a final resting place.
You couldn’t have convinced Hj and I when we got married that we would ever dream of living an easy life. We wanted to give our lives for Jesus in missions, be martyrs, live in huts, whatever He asked. We moved every year or so, selling pretty much everything we had each time. We had a fast turnover of friends.
Having two babies and turning 30 did the trick for us. All of a sudden we wanted old things that felt familiar. We didn’t want to travel or go on exciting adventures anymore. We wanted to have a stable, small life full of routines and predictability. We wanted old friendships that had been weathered and strengthened by lots of time, adversities and birthday parties.
I’m embracing some settling. I’m grateful for at least a few deep roots. I had to confess to my friend last week that I had semi-lied, and even though I felt silly, I didn’t care so much about what she thought of me. I’ve learned to value and cultivate healthy friendships and I’m learning how to confront people about their issues instead of gossip, thanks to a friend who is really good at this and even takes the time to teach me how. That takes a kind of self forgetfulness that I think we middle agers should be keen to embrace. By now surely we can stop obsessing about our own successes and failures and give it all away, live with an open hand and an open heart.
We can be humble enough by now to freely ask for advice, and listen to older people. We’ve discovered that we don’t know everything after all, but we can count as precious what we do know! We can take what wisdom we have in our bucket and pour it liberally on the next generation, on the children and young people in our lives.
Sometimes I find myself telling people in the checkout line stories about myself, when I was younger! This is the real sign that I am getting old and embracing it.