Turning Thirty

Thirty is a milestone because it ends in zero and that number always provokes us to look back and look forward. I must say that as I looked around at my life on my birthday yesterday, I was filled at gratitude. I have been blessed far more than I deserve.

The night that I turned twenty was the first night I held EA’s hand. It was to pull her up off the floor. I was bored and throwing things off the top balcony and wanted her to come along. We liked each other, but were still a couple of months away from dating.

I could not have anticipated that night what my twenties would bring: marriage, four moves, starting, stopping, and re-starting my seminary education, and the birth of our two sons. I am not for hyperbole but my twenties were “The Decade That Changed Everything.”

And in all of those big shifts have been a hundred tiny movements that have transformed me into whoever it is I have become. When I was young, 30 was well past the border of adulthood. It didn’t seem old, but it did seem like it was an age inhabited prominently by those that had things figured out.

That is not the case. My twenties have taught me that growing up means carrying what seem like paradoxes. I have watched my college-aged idealism erode away rapidly and yet I cling to hope even more. While growing up is supposed to make you more self-sufficient, I find that I need people now more than ever. The wound that I have always carried around has been a horrible insecurity, a belief that I was not good enough. I thought it would disappear, but there have been seasons where I have found that ignoring has only made it fester and grow.

And then there is faith. Faith has been with me from the beginning. It is always going to be an important part of my story. Yet the contrast I have discovered with that is, for me, a mature faith means a less certain faith.

That is pretty much the exact opposite of what I thought when I was younger. I figured that growing up would bring me an indefatigable confidence in my faith that would vaporize any challenge that life threw at me. I figured that a person that wrestled with doubts had bought a one-way ticket to Lukewarmville. Population: You and Satan (Actually, I didn’t think that. The train/Lukewarmville/population triumvirate was too fun a sentence for me to resist).

Yet this is what happens in the uncertainty: I hold on to Jesus more. It sounds cheesy and there is a detached/post-modernist guy inside of me that rolls his eyes at that. Yet in adulthood where all of the theoretically easy answers to life’s issues turn to dust, holding on to Jesus is absolutely all that one can do. When you realize you don’t have all the answers, all that you have left on which you can hang your hat is God’s grace.

I don’t think that I would have anticipated that ten years ago. I certainly would not have chosen that, but I would not trade that for anything today.

I have decided to stop trying to anticipate what is coming next. No one has any clue what is going to happen to them when they’re 40 or 50 or whether they’ll even make it there. I just hope that I can be the kind of husband, father, son, brother, friend, and whatever else that people need me to be. I pray God’s grace will carry me forward and carry me home.

Communion in the Beauty and Mess

A Modest Prayer for Oklahoma