This Wednesday is my 46th birthday.
As birthdays so often do, that new number brings with it a certain amount of conflicting emotions. I am no longer 20, can no longer be considered a young man. In fact, even with what has always been a bit of a baby face, I am no longer mistaken for being significantly younger than I am. That’s not too awesome. I have so many lines on my face and gray hairs in the growth on my face (but not on my head…I have been shaving that since before I started to lose it).
I’ve learned quite a lot and have become a very different person than I was yesterday, much less 20 years ago. That is pretty awesome.
Here’s a cool example from last week that illustrates the distance traveled. I re-connected with an old friend, after 10ish years. We spent a bagel together catching up and she had so thoroughly figured me and all of my many sins/inadequacies/fears/broken parts out that she felt an offer to extend her perhaps considerable psychological talents to help me was in order.
Now, I happen to believe relationship is a pre-requisite for unsolicited diagnosis, trust a foundation for mentorship, but that’s sort of besides the point here.
The point is that for most of my life, I would have immediately defended myself and my character, giving detailed examples to prove my position. My stomach would churn for days, maybe weeks, and I would drag this ridiculously meaningless dance out for at least that long. I would neeeed the other to see my side.
But when I got her offer Saturday, I thanked her and will not respond again. AND I slept like a baby Saturday night, after thanking God for bringing me along slowly until I could walk away without a second thought of if I had “won” or, more importantly, if I was liked. I would have given this person the keys to my peace & happiness, but at 46, I simply don’t care. It doesn’t matter if she ever knows the truth about me and who I am here, now, today. Some people won’t, and that is ok.
At 46, I have many trusted people in my life who love me and exercise an unreasonable concern for my heart. Maybe that’s why every year is better and better, my circle is expanding. The Angel, these boys, this family, this faith community, these neighbors, you. You know, if you asked me when I was 18 to dream of a wonderful life, I could not have come anywhere close to the beauty of this one and the absolutely overwhelming blessing of it all. Of course, it hasn’t been easy or without heartbreak, floods of tears, or tragedy. I haven’t erased the depression or the issues in my head. But it has been real and it has been full. I have loved and I have been loved.
I’ve learned to release my grip on how you see me, what you think of me, what I should do, who I should be, and instead jump from the top of that hell into the wildly loving arms of a Savior and an endless sea of others who will not only catch me, but walk with me every step. I’ve learned to believe what is true about me rather than the nasty destructive lying voices that have always been in my head (more or less;). I can give the keys to me back where they belong.
46 is a lot of years full of days, moments, and all I can really say is that I’m grateful. So if today is my last day or if I get 46 more years, it will have been, as it is right now, a very, very good life.