2 Peter 3:8 (NIV)
8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
Half a century old.
Wait- what?! How did that happen?! When I was a kid, I distinctly remember thinking 50 was ancient! I’m definitely not ancient!!
I also remember thinking that I’d never have to worry about being ancient because I couldn’t see myself living past the age of 30. I know I’m probably not the only one that thought that about me because of my actions at times. Clearly, Got had, still has, other plans for me.
Since I’m here, I suppose it would be fitting to share some things I’ve learned along this journey to 50… humor me if you will, and know as you follow along that A) I learned every one of them the hard way and B) just because I’ve learned them doesn’t mean I’m always good at them.
1- Adulting is hard. Making adult decisions is hard. Facing the consequences of some of said adult decisions is hard. But I’ve found that until I could accept each of those three statements as facts, it was MUCH harder. And I’ve learned that I can do hard things, some of them I can do well.
2- Not everyone needs to think like me. Yep, it’s true. After decades of stressing over people who “just don’t get it,” I’ve finally come to a place where, for the most part, I let people be people who do people things. In cases where people try to make me think like them, I tend to take what I need and leave the rest.
3- Saying NO could save your sanity, or your life, depending on what you don’t say no to. Food, work, drugs, money, tattoos, overextending myself; all of these have taken priority at some point in my life over what was really most important- my children, my marriage, my family, my health. Saying no lets me breathe. Saying no doesn’t mean I don’t love you or care about the cause, it just means I don’t have time or resources for it this time. Some of my No’s are not always a forever kind of thing. Trust me, I still say yes a lot, but I say yes to my needs more now. Ok, I say yes to school more now…. I will finish this degree because # 1 above.
4- Most of the time, people aren’t GIVING you a hard time, they’re more than likely HAVING a hard time. This kind of goes with # 2. It’s literally been only in the past nine months, living with my sister, that has taught me this lesson. Now THAT is a woman who can do hard things. If you don’t know me personally, my sister is a bilateral below-the-knee amputee who has had to learn to do life all over, this time without feet (long story for another day). She’s taught me to stop for a minute and consider what others may be going through. Sometimes I can be stubborn or thick headed and am slow to get it. Sometimes, God knows I need a very clear sign because I don’t naturally think about these things. Sometimes, she’s been like my own personal version of Bill Engvall right here at home….
5- There is nothing on earth that compares to letting go. I’ve read books, taken classes, been in therapy for years, and no matter what I’ve piled into my brain about letting go and moving on, nothing compares to accepting in my heart that sometimes I just can’t save the world so I have to let it go. Letting go frees me up to take care of what needs fixed or refocused in ME. It’s ok to not hold grudges, it’s ok to love from a distance, it’s ok to walk away from toxic. Letting go doesn’t mean I don’t love, it just means I no longer agree that it’s my job to carry someone else’s load.
6- Forgiving myself was WAY harder than forgiving others. I’m not perfect, but for so long, I thought I was supposed to be. Since I couldn’t be, I hated myself for it. It caused me to think that the way some people treated me was what I deserved. I found out in my walking through the WHY behind my WHAT that I am so human, and so broken, and frail, and wishy-washy, and NORMAL. I’ve come to understand that God’s opinion of me is the only one that truly matters. Yes, it’s important that my boss likes me so I can keep my job, and it’s important that the FedEx girl likes me so my stuff doesn’t arrive in shreds; but those people don’t provide the security that knowing how God feels about me does. He says I am loved. He says I am accepted. He says I am the apple of His eye. And if God can forgive me, who am I not to?
7- Not one human in all of existence has stressed enough to change one second of the past. Nope. Can’t find a single one. There’s truth to the cliche “the past is past, the future isn’t promised, that’s why today is a Present.” Since I know it can’t be changed, I stopped wishing for a different past and I focus instead on what I can do today, right now, to make a better future.
8- Eat the derned cake! We weren’t all created to wear size 2! Eat the cake, and yes, eat the kale, too! If I focus on the diet or the jeans or the calories or the whatever else there is that I can’t have because society says my size is bad, I don’t have time to celebrate what I CAN have! By the way, my size happens to be the LEAST available in most stores but there’s all them danged size 2’s hanging right there…. Eat the cake.
9- Ask for help. Period. We were not created to do life alone! This is still the hardest thing in this world for me to do!! But even still, ask. Your need may be the very thing someone else has asked God for so that they can be a blessing to someone else. It takes a village, right?
10- I’m teachable, I’m flexible more now than ever, and I’ve still got so much to learn. I have a moderately high IQ and sometimes, about half a pound’s worth of common sense. I’m happy to say I don’t know it all- sorry mom, I finally get it- and I’m ok with that. I say I should know better a lot, but I’m saying it less these days. If I ever get to a point where Ive learned it all and don’t need anyone to teach me anything anymore, I’m sure I’ll be dust. I pray I will be a life-long learner but also one that tries to apply the good stuff I’ve learned.
So, that’s 10 of the most important things I’ve learned in 50 years on the planet. Still, the absolute number 1 thing I’ve learned is about the love of God. I’ve learned that He is a Good, Good Father and that He loves me with all of Himself, even with His life, and that nothing I do or have done surprises Him. Nothing is too big for Him. He’s literally loved me for all eternity. Sometimes I think He shouldn’t, but He thinks otherwise.
50 years on the rock. 50 years of falling down and getting back up. 50 years of wandering, finding who I thought I was and getting lost again. 50 years of me. Yeah. Maybe it’s not so bad after all.
Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy.