Friday, September 11, 2015

on planning fortieth birthdays because we are so old


“George Macdonald said, 'If you knew what God knows about death you would clap your listless hands', but instead I find old people in North America just buying this whole youth obsession. I think growing older is a wonderful privilege. I want to learn to glorify God in every stage of my life.”  -Elisabeth Elliot

"I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit." -Romans 15:13-14

As my ten-year-old will tell you, I was born "way back in the last century". I'm planning Morgan's fortieth birthday next month, and it is all just way too real, you guys. Forty may be the new thirty, but it really just is not. Despite the fact I am super young and fresh (humor me here), I only have six more months left in my thirties.

I shall rock them like it's 1999.

I'm not going to lie. I can't wait to be 40. The past five years have felt more like fifteen long spins around the Sun. I have spent the last three years pretending not to already feel forty inside. The outside of me has taken a few hits with the years, too.

Like the old grey mare, I ain't what I used to be. I held up my anti-aging facewash to Morgan last night and told him what the label should say: "You will be young forever! Buy our product and forget your wrinkles! (Just don't ask for a refund when you get old anyways, mmkay?)" Then I stuck my tongue out at the bottle because despite being this old, I am not particularly mature.

My eyelids are less perky than they were a decade ago. My neck skin is definitely getting a little lazy. The dermatologist has found my skin less-than-cancer-free after years of beach-loving days (Basal cell carcinoma for the win!). I discovered a strange pain in my right hand last month. (A brief google search told me it's either arthritis or I'm slowly dying of hypothermia. Hard to tell for sure.) I may even be going grey, for pity's sake. My hair hasn't been its natural color in decades, though, so the world will never know.

Don't get me wrong, I would love to turn forty and still be twenty-five, but I think that would confuse people.

All this getting older business reminds me of the last trimester of my pregnancies, when the discomfort increased, my vanity slipped away as my body expanded in ways I never thought possible, and I slowly accepted the truth that I would have to give birth. Freedom comes to pregnant woman when they embrace the truth: this is not in your control.

As we age, we face the same reality. And the freedom is just as liberating. The Bible says all people are like grass, we fade and wither. But, it then it reminds us that the word of the Lord lasts forever.

Forever sounds like a really long time to me. Way longer than forty years. Thank goodness.

George MacDonald knew the truth. We ought to clap our hands and rejoice in how far we have come, and how close we are to an eternity in which God's word will birth us into His presence forever. Rejoicing in being old feels very counter-cultural, and we are all about that kind of Jesus stuff. WWJD on His fortieth birthday? He would party.

So, Morgan and I are giving ourselves a day full of all our favorite things on our fortieth birthdays. We will not ask "What should we do for our birthday?" because that question is a bummer machine. We plan to do everything that helps us relish the sweetness of four decades of being alive, feeling loved, having meaningful work and people in our lives, and the last twenty-plus years of knowing the God who loves us so well.

Bring it, fortieth birthday. Bring the fun, bring the happy cakes with all the candles, bring the memories, bring all you have to offer us. We salute you! (And hopefully this potential case of hypothermia I have won't slow down my clapping hands.)

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