I turned thirty years old this week.
I keep saying it under my breath or while I’m driving in the car to see if it sounds any less weird.
Nope. Still weird. (And I may or may not be adding crazy to the mix by talking to myself.)
As much as I wish that turning thirty felt like any other birthday, with my heart full of a quiet happiness for a day of celebration, I feel a little mixed.
Thirty feels different than any other year so far.
As uncomfortable as it felt, I didn’t want to miss the chance to sort through my turning-thirty-feelings. As I sat with the Lord, I tried to decide what emotion was rising to the surface, since it didn’t feel fully obvious.
I remembered the article I flipped through recently, all about health throughout the decades. It was startling to realize I would no longer be in the “twenties” but in the “thirties” where maintaining health was just a little bit harder, and progress was slower and hard-earned.
No one wants to sign up for “a little bit harder.” No one wants “slower and hard-earned.”
I sure don’t.
I want free and easy, with fast results and beautiful skin, where feeling and looking gorgeous is effortless.
But that’s when I slowed my heart and remembered the story Jesus has been telling for my life for quite a while now. The one that isn’t a slogan or a marketing ploy. The one that isn’t all about appearances and things that are only skin-deep.
The one where following Jesus always leads to a better story. The one that is often a little bit harder, slower and hard-earned. The one that is about gaining a deeper, more beautiful soul. The one that makes his name great.
That’s the story I want. That’s the story I’ve been living.
I think something about turning thirty tuned my heart into listening to what culture says about aging instead of what quiet truth the Lord has to offer. And this is what he spoke over my heart this week:
The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God.
They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.
Psalm 92: 12-15
This is the story I want. The one where I’m old and yet full of energy and vitality because of how I’ve lived. The one where each year is a lived intentionally, seeking after the Lord. The one where I am still bearing fruit, no matter what my age is or what season I find myself in. The one where I get to declare that I am secure because the Lord is my rock, my safe place.
As I’ve reflected on these thirty years I’ve been given, it was a gift to realize how little I regret. And of the things I’d do differently, I wouldn’t wish any away because of how the Lord has used those things to grow me. Really and truly.
These thirty years have been rich and full.
I became a wife and mother.
I have loved a lot of people, whether for one season or many.
I have become a deeper, braver version of myself.
I know myself well and am kinder to myself.
It has been thirty beautiful years, full of grace.
My heart still feels a little funny about turning thirty. But I think that’s okay. We were meant for eternity, so aging should feel a little funny. But I want to fight against the temptation to only look to all that I’m losing with the passing of another year. I want to say thank you for what grace I’ve been given.
Here’s my birthday prayer this year.
Jesus, may I age with grace. May there be “a flourishing of my faith and a liveliness to my worship that I didn’t have in earlier years.” May my entrance into another year demonstrate the spiritual vigor that grows only out of years of trusting you, coupled with the “wisdom that comes from a treasure chest of rich memories, both sorrowful and sweet.” (Songs of Jesus, 230)
Thank you for so many years with you as my shepherd. Thank you for giving me this life.
Thank you for the sorrow of these years. Thank you for the tears, the waiting, the hot mess days and the unanswered prayers. They have turned my heart to you. I trust you more; I am braver; I am more human because of the pain. You are using it all for good, whether I see it now or not.
Thank you for the JOY of these years; for my husband; for my sweet children; for my parents and brothers; for new sisters; for writing; for our home; for friends around our table; for residence life; for so many books; for answered prayers; for providing for all our needs and loving my soul with abundance; for your faithfulness in so much transition and change.
I am so very thankful for all the grace.
ALL IS GRACE.