On being no longer young

Am I no longer young, and still half-perfect? Let me
 keep my mind on what matters, which is my work, which is mostly standing still and learning to be
Mary Oliver, “Messenger”

Friends, this week I had a birthday. I’ve been saying that it is my first annual 39th birthday, which cracks me up, these indefinite birthday numbers – hanging on to what is and what has been rather than looking ahead at what will be.

Starting my career in my early 20’s in a field dominated by men over 50, and then a business at 30 meant I was always the young woman doing this thing – whatever role I was in at the time. I’ve been given incredible opportunities, in many cases, because I was young and others believed in me enough to build into me. It’s tempting to hang onto that season, but things are shifting. (Perhaps because these days I need industrial-strength Spanx and I’m starting to find silver sparkles in my hair?)

I’m thinking it might be time to let go instead of holding on so tight.

You know what? I’m okay that I am no longer the young kid, and I kind of have this feeling that my next 40 years are going to be the best yet. Not because I’ve arrived (I absolutely have NOT arrived & I’m thinking I never will in this lifetime, because, well, heaven) but because I’m learning to be okay with half-perfect.

So ridiculously half-perfect.

The more years and days I put behind me, the more I realize how very not together we are, and how much grace we need to extend to each other and ourselves because of this very thing. How we need to stand still and look at what has already happened, be amazed at what is happening even today, and astonished at what is unfolding.

This summer, I was reminded of the audaciousness of my 20’s. Of the belief that I could do just about anything, and would try anything, because the filter of experience simply wasn’t there. I started to miss that brave, 20-something me, who believed anything was possible. I wanted her back.

What I really wanted, I think, was my wonderment back. My astonishment. The expectation that anything is possible – not the fear that anything could go wrong.

There is no way I want to roll back the clock, however.

The first time I spotted silver in my hair, I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to be the next generation. I wasn’t ready to lead. I just wasn’t ready. It actually made me a bit panicky.

I’m still not ready, but I’m willing now, in a new way, and more excited than panicky. And although Mary Oliver said that our job was to stand, I think my job might actually be to be willing & available, regardless of the season of life.

Willing to do what it takes to use my gifts to the glory of God and the good of others. Willing to choose joy. Willing to love even when it is hard. Willing to take risks because we truly only do get this one opportunity to make our life on earth full of meaning. Willing to believe that it’s true that my mind can’t comprehend what has been prepared for me in my upcoming years.

I believe it will be good, it will be hard, it will be disappointing, it will be fulfilling and it will be astonishing if I will continue to do the work before me, living out this calling, day by day.

The best thing about moving into a new season? The years have given me different perspective. A new lens. A lens that says that these things that will happen in this new season, they’re so not about me, but I get to enjoy the ride. And that, right there, helps make me brave in a whole new way – a way that is fueled by grace and hope, and a knowledge that no matter what comes, the best is yet to be.

Young - Coffee for your heart