Last week, I celebrated the Big 43. I remember when I turned 28 for 4 years in a row. For some reason, the age number bothered me then, but now, not so much. It’s just a number that counts the years I’ve lived, not how young or old I feel.
So to celebrate, I planned a ladies breakfast with my girlfriends and we Unwrapped 43 together.
We began with our choice of Hazelnut, French Vanilla or tea and then dove into yummy treats around the table. We had a fun competition between different generations and then rounded out our morning with a little something I had planned for all the ladies.
And because I consider you my friend, I thought I would share with you as well.
The age of 43 plants me in my 5th decade and through each decade I’ve learned a life lesson.
In my 1st decade, my best friends were my siblings and neighborhood gang. We rode bikes, played ‘Kick-the-Can’ and built ramps for our skateboard expeditions. Along with our baby dolls, we had our pet rocks; found in the driveway and scrubbed clean with our own toothbrushes. Something our mother found not so humorous. We decorated those rocks, built stick homes for them and even planned play-dates so they could play with their rock friends.
Another rock I learned about in that 1st decade was the firm foundation of our Rock – Jesus Christ. We were a family in church every time the doors were open; growing up under the pews and learning the songs of Sunday School. There was the traditional Jesus Loves Me, and Climb, Climb up Sunshine Mountain, along with one of my all-time favorites...The Wise Man Built His House upon The Rock (Matthew 7:24-27)
With our lives built on Him, the solid Rock, we can stand firm. We’re not promised an easy life or a life without storms and floods; but we are promised He will not leave or abandon us in the storms of life. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
In my tumultuous teen years, my 2nd decade, I sometimes felt swayed back and forth between the crowd and The Cross. Watching the crowd and wanting to be a part… yet still living what I learned in the 1st decade. How do I make Him real in my real living-out life?
It is said about Jesus in Matthew 12:18-21, “A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out…” He never stepped on the broken, or snuffed out the small, but instead gently lifted them up to revive and make whole. My lesson from the teen years is this: In our wavering time…when our faith is broken and almost snuffed out, He is gentle with us; bringing us to a brighter, stronger place in Him.
My 3rd decade was full of major decisions….career, college, marriage, even babies. Life isn’t a game of chance but a gift of choice. I am today, the sum of my past choices. Good and bad, God works through them all. Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” Of all the years I would want to live again, the 20’s would definitely be the choice. Those years weren’t just a lucky throw of the dice, but they were full of purposeful, prayed-through, thought-out choices that set me on a good path for my life. I wouldn’t change those years for anything!
Stretch marks of all kinds are scattered throughout my 4th decade. Having more babies, raising toddlers, pastoring churches and moving across the country has a way of stretching one beyond recognition. Events don’t always play out according to our game plan. I’ve learned when I force my way… or stay put when I’m told to move… I just end up sore, beat and out of shape. Staying flexible keeps me pliable to His forming. Becoming rigid and inflexible brings added pressure to my life and I end up cracking under the stress that inflexibility brings.
I’m now into my 5th decade and not sure I like the sound of that. This decade has brought wrinkles and crinkles, saggies and baggies…and I’m not so on board for that….but I’m learning. I’m learning Grace.
The past whispers to me: “If it’s not worth doing right, it’s not worth doing.” My scripting takes over and I strive for perfection followed by disappointment when I fail.
I’m learning it’s okay to not be perfect; to not have it all together, all the time. For those who are perfectionist, they will understand this is a big step. I’m learning “perfect” is a real enemy. Fighting for ‘perfect’ robs me of simply enjoying the moment, the joy of journeying and the joy of failing, learning and being okay with it. Grace is something I’m learning to give myself. There’s a whole lot of beautiful in the flawed and imperfect.
Along with grace, I’m learning trust. Trust that He has it all… All of this messy life and He holds it all together.
For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible…everything got started in Him and finds its purpose in Him. He was there before any of it came into existence and He holds it all together right up to this moment. Colossians 1:17 (The Message)
All of this is a small part of Unwrapping 43…43 years of love, struggle, trust and grace all wrapped up in this gift called life.
My Unwrapping 43 ladies breakfast ended just as I wanted…praying with friends and giving each of them a nest full of goodies. The goodies and reminders of Unwrapping 43.
- 1st decade – Rock
- 2nd decade – Reed
- 3rd decade – Dice
- 4th decade – Rubber Band
- 5th decade – Grace
- The nest – He holds it all together.