The day after tomorrow I turn 30. I had someone say "Wow. Almost 30. How does that feel?" as though they expect me to crumble in a pile of wrinkles before their eyes. I've also heard people talk about leaving their 20s as though the party is officially over.
First of all, 30 is not old! It's my Beppe's birthday today and I believe she is 81. In her last couple years she has traveled much (including a trip to the Netherlands). She learned photoshop, she is currently growing her vegetables and working on projects. She facebooks and e-mails her grandkids and has embarked on adventures to visit us all with her husband of 60 years. She has 50 years on me and has partied it up more than I have this year! Sure, her joints ache more than mine and she probably wouldn't be excited about getting up with small children in the middle of the night, but she doesn't sit around lamenting about growing old.
My other Grandma had hip surgery this month. She had surgery on that hip 20 some years ago and when they told her it would need another replacement when she was in her 80s she figured she'd probably be gone by then anyway. Well, surprise. She's the hottest widow in Churchill, MT (seriously these poor gentlemen would love to score a date with her but she is downright picky!) and she's gritting her teeth, healing from a hip surgery at age 82. If these women can be this gracious in their 80s, how could I ever talk about 30 like it's any kind of "old"?
Secondly, there are plenty of things I detest about our culture but at the top of the list is the idea that getting old is unappealing and depressing. Obviously the choices we make are impossible to ignore as we get older. In your early 20s it's hard to tell the difference between the girl who eats healthy, exercises, and has healthy priorities versus the girl who drinks too much, sleeps around, and makes self-serving choices. See the same girls 40 years later and it's quite obvious. Laugh lines look nothing like lines of alcoholism in a face.
We have been reading through some Proverbs as a family and it makes me excited to grow old as we discuss the beauty of the Lord's wisdom as it grows in our hearts. Every year of my life I gain a little more of His discernment, a little more understanding of His character (and a few laugh lines...proud of those). It grieves me that our culture values sexy and perky over wisdom and experience. Shouldn't a marriage of 60 years be sexier than hormonal teenagers anyway?
All of these thoughts were what led me to tell S. last year at this time, "I can't WAIT to be 30. The 30s are going to be the best years of my life. I'm going to rock the 30s. The energy and excitement of my 30s is going to catapult me into my 40s! Before I know it I'll be cultivating my tomato plants and visiting my great-grandkids in my 80s. I love getting older!"
I cringe slightly now at my bold proclamation because this year at 29 has been the hardest year of my life. Not quite the precursor I was hoping for. I'm understanding a little more Solomon's words "For in much wisdom is much grief, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow". Ecclesiastes 1:18
I am still resolving that my 30s will be my best decade thus far: not because I'm going to have my act together (I seem to get further away from that as I go), not because I will look a-mazing (my body was stretched out 3 times in 4 years), not because I have awesome plans (every plan is thwarted, changed, or on an altar at present time).
My 30s will be my best decade thus far because I am still holding fast to Christ. He is not content with my present state and is speaking to me about sweeter things He wants to establish. I would love it to involve defined biceps, thriving children, a healthy husband, and a savings account. But even if it only involves deep dependance on my Lord, a softer heart, and a listening ear... it will be gain.
Just throwing myself out there a bit...