Monday, December 21, 2009

Beyond my quarterlife

Yesterday during Sunday dinner, a friend of mine who is a little younger than me mentioned that as of New Year's Eve, Dec. 31, 2009, she will be 33 and 1/3 years old. Based on a 100-year life expectancy -- which may not be a stretch in our era -- she will have lived at least a third of her life.

What a poignant thought! What a pivotal moment to reflect and consider, what did I really accomplish in the first third of my life? What have I done with the years God has given me? And what do I want to do with the next third?

I had specific expectations about how I would feel on my 30th birthday. I thought I would feel old, because things I experienced in the 80s -- like Ronald Reagan becoming president, the Challenger accident, and the Thriller debut at a time when MTV played only videos -- chronologically seem like a long time ago, but I remember them clearly. I also expected to feel a bit lackluster, because I had not realized some of my goals and dreams, like finishing grad school, making a six-figure salary, having kids, running a marathon and traveling overseas. My ten-year high school reunion came and went when I was 28. Honestly, the only reason I didn't go is because I hadn't lived up to my own expectations, and I was really ashamed about that.

But an oddly comforting thing happened on my 30th birthday. The aspects I thought defined me started to look like a leaky roof. I had shingles of thoughts about where I wanted to be and what I wanted to be doing, but between the cracks I could see light breaking through, illuminating who I really am, what has really become important to me, and where I want to go. A huge part of this shift has to do with being more serious about my faith. I don't claim to have arrived by any stretch, but by taking greater strides toward maturity in Christ, I've learned to be more patient, more focused and more forgiving of others and myself. When my husband and I married, I would have busted a gut if someone told me he would be a deacon and a minister, and that I would be dancing in praise to God at church. We were sooooo the opposite of that picture! I know I don't have to stay in the box anyone creates for me, and I don't have to put boundaries around myself. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there truly is liberty. I can have peace here and now and not be overly concerned about things. I don't have to live the next third of my life bound. The limit is beyond the sky.

What will you do in the next chapter of your life, be it the next quarter, the next year, or the next hour? How will you define the quality of your life? It's my prayer that you'll follow His design, His plan, and His definition. I'm making it a point to do the same.

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