Growing Old & Growing Up
Gray hair is a crown of glory...
I turned fifty years old last week. It doesn’t feel like I pictured it.
When I was younger, I assumed I'd be eager to slip into practical shoes and a predictable existence by this time. I imagined that I’d sigh with relief because I wouldn’t need to prove myself to anyone. I pictured myself at fifty as a fading photograph, with the most brilliant colors of my life behind me. I thought that I wouldn’t need to feel attractive to the opposite sex anymore. I thought my fiercest desires would be in the past; left behind in the unpaved possibility of youth. I imagined I would be wise enough, smart enough, and successful enough not to care what people think. I suppose I thought I'd feel more finished– like a steak hot off the grill. Or maybe a steak that’s been eaten. I’m not sure which.
And yet here I am, half a century old and still growing up. Thankfully, I’ve changed and matured; but not in the ways I expected. My longings are just as fervent and fiery as they were in my twenties; maybe even more so because they've had time to develop. I want new adventures, new challenges, and new ideas. I am definitely not resigned to anything---but I believe I am more content.
I still want people to like me—but I’m not embarrassed to admit it anymore. I’m at peace with my longings—even those that feel trite or vain. I still want to feel beautiful. I don’t need predictability half as much as I thought I would – but I do enjoy my consistent dependence on God. The more familiar I am with my broken parts, the more I am grateful for His unwavering grace. I’ve experienced the Lord’s mysterious ways; my questions seem to multiply rather than divide. But I am happy to have a faith that both frightens and endears me to the God I trust. More than knowledge, confidence, or experience, I’ve gained an appreciation for all that I don’t know, and all I have not yet become.
Maybe by the time I’m 65, I’ll wear purple clothing and a red hat and chatter away about my cataracts. Perhaps I'll say whatever comes to mind because I won't care what people think. Maybe I'll feel like I've got my faith wired. I may wear practical shoes.
But I hope not.
As I grow older, I hope that my life becomes broader and bigger right along with my heart. I hope my faith gets deeper and stronger because God leads me to places I’d never predict – even scary, hard places where I will feel afraid and small. I hope my confidence is placed in the Lord of my life – not the circumstances I live in. No matter how old I get, I hope I am always growing up. Most of all, I hope I never feel finished one moment before my final breath.