A reflection on my 50th birthday
Blogging for a few minutes without forethought or something churning in me. Just wanting to check in and reflect on what it feels like to turn fifty years old.
I haven't approached this day with loathing. It hasn't loomed heavily out there as something to dread. I've been able to look at fifty with some fun. You know, the thing about fifty being the new forty (or thirty!). All that over-the-hill stuff isn't striking me right now as anything but comic relief. So, I'm feeling rather lighthearted today...at least right now.
Since I really don't like birthday cakes, preferring birthday cookies, I bought a 12-inch birthday cookie at the supermarket last evening to share around the table at our Wednesday morning round table discussion at Unleavened Bread Cafe. Glad God created chocolate chip cookies for us to enjoy!
I think I dreaded my forties as they approached. I remember having the distinct impression that many people seem to "lose it" in their forties. I noticed that folks in their 40's tended to divorce, fall off the wagon, have affairs, change careers, go through some traumatic mid-life crisis, etc. I wondered what would happen to me? I determined to try to hang in there during the decade from age 40 to age 50, not so much trying to remain the same or resist change (how foolish!), but to journal and contemplatively pray my way through whatever terrain may come. Guided by a mission statement and with a lot of grace, I've landed at 50 in one piece.
I'm too close and it's too early to say definitively that I've done anything other than survive my forties. I am not declaring "victory." But I don't think I've unwittingly or intentionally put off necessarily-needed soul and relational work until after my forties were safely past. I have been changed, either by choice or by circumstances. I have made changes in what I do in light of my sense of being and mission. I have grieved and grieve losses or lack of development of hoped-for dimensions of life and relationship. I continue to grapple with some challenges I have faced earlier in life.
But amid all this, I pause with gratitude for grace. "'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far..." I could complain and sometimes do, but I also confess the words of Psalm 16 that impressed me in my early twenties: "The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places....I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken."
I suppose that is as good a place as any from which to begin the journey beyond 50. I am not naive. I do not expect smooth sailing or an easy journey forward. Another 50 years is less likely than the first 50. In some ways, I feel like all to this point has been but a preparation for responsibilities and privileges, challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. I believe I can approach the future with less anxiety and more faith and confidence than I approached my early adulthood. We'll see. "Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken."
In the spirit of dialog, I welcome comments and/or questions. Click on "responses" below to post. They're moderated only to reduce incivility.