January 25, 2021
“So, how does it feel turning 50?”
My sister asked the question with sympathy and was prepared to receive my struggle. I hear people say “I love being 40.” But I have never heard someone say that about 50.
At 40 people many are more secure in who they are, no longer slaves to others’ expectation and freed to reveal their authentic selves. At 40 children are often in “sweet spots” age-wise, no longer high-need toddlers, yet still young enough to be enthusiastic about life and more focused on family than friends. At 40 people are hitting a stride in their careers and feeling confident in the skills they honed in their 30’s.
Then, one short decade later, 50 knocks on the door. The landscape is foreign – we’ve not been here before and it feels uncomfortable. For some, kids are leaving home. The reality of living a half century begins to take effect in the body. Questions about “what’s next” loom large, as the volume knob on the home is turned way down and time opens up. In some senses we’re surrounded with opportunity, people, and work, and yet in another sense, it’s a new alone.
I looked at my sister and, after a long pause, finally answered the question, “I have a choice.”
I can either buy into the cultural norm that older = worse, or I can tap into spiritual wisdom that clearly says age is a crown.
Sure I’m changing physically. That is a reality I see every morning when I look in the mirror.
But since when are wrinkles something to be shamed?
These wrinkles have been hard won on the summits of mountains, at my bedside kneeled in fervent prayer, in deep, belly laughter with my family whom I adore, on black diamond ski slopes with powder snow glancing my goggles, in deep conversations full of concern and tears, and on boat rides with the wind in my face.
The moments of life where I’m really alive have caused these lines on my face, and I’m grateful for every single one.
I could spend the rest of my days trying to take them away and cover them up, or I could determine to actually get more. To live more fully. To live with more courage. To live life ABUNDANTLY – alive and present to all that this beautiful world has to offer.
What is true beauty?
If I truly believe that beauty lies inside of a person, not on the outside, then it changes everything about how I feel about getting older. I do not have to strive to be a younger version of myself, but instead embrace and lean into the growing beauty that comes from the life well lived inside of me.
God is in the business of completing the work he began (Phil.1:6), not stopping in mid-design, but bringing it to completion. This happens over time and must include the experiences brought about by standing on high hills, and in dark valleys.
My creator whispers to me, “pay no attention to what culture values. Humans only care about external appearance, but I consider inner character.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
May the lines on my face be badges of honor – evidence of the goodness of God, for they are carving my story.
Fifty years have brought greater wisdom, deeper compassion than I thought possible, a faithful, deeply loving marriage, unwavering faith, an abundant family life with an all-in commitment to each person, contentment beyond circumstances, and hope that grows with time.
I choose all of these. That is my choice.
How do I feel turning 50? Pretty darn good!!