Which is ridiculous, because we remember middle school like it was yesterday, when we thought thirty was old, forty was ancient, fifty was incomprehensible, and sixty year-olds probably need to just take a nap all the time. Our plan was to be forever young. Growing old seemed about as likely as being abducted by aliens or mastering the moonwalk back then.
And yet, time itself just kept ticking away until we became the world's oldest middle schoolers in the history of the world.
In all honesty, it's the best thing that ever happened to us. Maturity is better than the Beatles, Bono, the Backstreet Boys, or even Bieber (depending on your awkward middle school music experience.)
I suspect it's all the vulnerability we are learning to bravely live. All the shirking of shame; all the scary choices to let love and weakness lead the way. Those choices make us younger as the years pass. It seems impossible, but those of us who have lived this way can bear witness to the miracle.
Youth was full of wonder: wondering what we would become, who we would be, who would find us worthy of love. Wisdom has given us a gift in the years: we have become who we are and we are happy to alive, to be loved, and to not be in middle school any longer.
Sure, our bodies are fading, but our souls are getting brighter. It's easy to miss this storyline of ours when we're running around trying to be enough for the demands of the day. But it's all there in 1 Peter 1:7-9.
"These [trials] have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls."
Faith isn't faith if we know how everything's going to work out. Faith looks Hard Luck in the face and names it Amazing Grace.
And vulnerable faith, well, that's faith on steroids. Vulnerable faith knows it can't stop the years from running along at breakneck speed. It doesn't want a cure for aging, it wants joy in the midst of life-as-it-is.
Vulnerable faith is sticking our chins way out there and deciding the punch we haven't taken yet- the one we can't see coming because it's coming at us through the safest door- that punch is going to be the one Jesus uses to change our life and make us more like Him.
Don't say it isn't fair. Fairness is fleeting nonsense, a pish-posh nothingness that will only leave us crooked and full of resentment. Love and forgiveness are never about fairness. We don't want today to be fair- we want eternity to burst with endless belonging.
But to get to eternity, we'll have to get old first. Aging is like passing through customs to get into a new country. Lots of lines and waiting, until suddenly, one day we find ourselves in our thirtieth or fortieth or eightieth year, awestruck at the way youth was fleeting and maturity is like a sun rising and gaining beauty with each tick of the clock.
This life only keeps getting better. All we do is win, because all we do is love Jesus most of all.
(But I'd still love to master the moonwalk. A girl's got to have dreams, you know?)