The 9th was my 30th birthday. 30 years on this little planet that is hurtling through the cosmos. 30 years that go by unnoticed by most of the 7+ billion people on this blue marble, but for a small group that means the world to me.
I was thinking about milestones, how society says that by each ‘stone’ we should be ever so far in our life.
Medical milestones at a young age cause anxiety with parents when children don’t start sitting upright on the time dot, or speaking, or walking.
When we hit 13 (at least in America), we decree we are ‘Teen’ and more responsibilities are heaped upon our shoulders.
When 16 comes around with jangling keys, we fight for freedom and worry our parents.
18 decrees us ‘Adult’ by the law, and we are kicked out of the safety net of our high schools into the scary world of work and college.
Then 21 comes around and suddenly everyone sees you as a true adult and urges you to drink up and flash that license as proof.
It’s time to sow your wild oats and party hardy, until you are 25, now it’s time to start calming down and looking for someone to spend your life with.
And now you are 30. Now you should be settled with a loving spouse, have a few little munchkins running down, have a respectable career and basically have your life set.
The next years will run by a bit predictably, but not poorly, you’ll buy a house, have grandkids and dogs running around that house.
Retirement will come at a suitable time, where you can still go on adventures and see the world, where you can babysit your great grandkids that you spoil rotten, much to the bemused annoyance of your grandchildren.
The twilight years will of course be kind to you and your spouse, and you will slowly slip away from this little world, entering into the peace of heaven, while leaving a family of loved ones comfortable and happy.
But…what happens if you don’t make those milestones?
Are you a failure?
Does society judge you for not succeeding at their arbitrary decrees?
I can easily tell you what I have not succeeded in, what milestones I have missed: marriage, kids, home, dog, successful career that I went to school for, a nice saving’s account, and a newer model car.
So basically…everything I have failed at, right?
One can easily paint their whole existence a failure, if they just focus on what society says we should be doing. I found myself getting caught in that riptide when I was bearing down on my day of birth. I started comparing myself to my friends: those who are about to get married, others who have children, one who had gotten a home, others who are in their dream jobs and making a comfortable living or are working in their God called ministry.
I had to knock myself out of that spiraling mindset. There is never an end to it. You can just keep tearing yourself down and listing how badly you are dealing with your life. Or, you can start seeing what you ARE doing, and how amazing your season of life truly is.
Every person is gifted with seasons. If you are familiar with Ecclesiastes, Solomon talks about a ‘Time for Everything,’ and it starts at 3:1 with this verse, “There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven.” Now, I like to believe this ‘time’ is not dictated by society or our culture. Because having the nameless mass that changes the fads, in charge of my milestones is a little terrifying.
So, I believe God is in charge of my seasons, my times. Sure, freewill plays a part in how we react to what is going on in our life, but God also places us in certain places in the world for a reason. So that we can dig deep and blossom brightly in the darkness.
With my mind on that thought, I pondered what I have succeed in and I attempted to list out 30 triumphs for my 30 years on this earth:
- I have a Masters in Divinity from an accredited seminary!
- I have surpassed all of my old IEPs and have left my doubters in my dust!
- I am a Sunday School teacher for the ladies of my church, and have been so for the last 3 years, helping give them the tools to dig deeper into the Word.
- I have been recently chosen to be the new Superintendent of Sunday School.
- I am very active in my church, and my opinion is respected.
- I am an encourager, really working on listening to that little voice prompting me to reach out to someone who is hurting.
- I am getting really involved in Joni and Friends with various ministries: collecting wheelchairs for Wheels For the World, Family Retreat, and having gone to Global Access Conference recently.
- I am a respected Caregiver, all of my job opportunities since I was 14 came from word of mouth. I actually just got offered a job for 2 years from now, because the lady liked the way I took care of my present client.
- My clients always know that they have me firmly on their side for support.
- I had the opportunity a few years ago to actually lead a workshop at my college on disabilities.
- I finished and passed my ‘thesis’! A 73 page paper that I worked on for 8 years!
- I spoke at a workshop for the satellite showing of The Justice Conference at my school.
- I am writing on this blog as well as short stories.
- I’m learning not to be a perfectionist and having the fear of failure keep from doing something.
- I’m not shying away from debates nearly as much as I use to.
- I worked on my screwed up ankle for three months which gave me the ability to pay for my apartment for the last semester of college while I was laid up.
- I am known for my level of work ethic.
- I am constantly becoming more comfortable speaking in front of people.
- I have, through the grace of God, learned how to be more honest with myself.
- I have also with his grace, managed not to be swayed by from my personal path by other people.
- I’m learning how to really listen to God’s prompting and act on it.
- God is giving me ways to use my spiritual gifts, in places and ways I never thought possible.
- My education has not ended, because I am constantly learning.
- I am constantly digging deeper into the Bible.
- I’m dreaming big and planning a possible Retirement Center in my valley. Who knows, right?!
- I am learning how not to wait to do something I really want to do, simply because I just don’t have enough money, I can still have fun.
- I’m going to go to Disney with a group of friends, thanks to their generous birthday gifts, which means I will be taking my first true vacation!
- I will be skydiving in June thanks to my parents! Crossing off something from my bucket list and facing one of my fears.
- I still have a great relationship with my parents and I count them as my closest friends.
- I am constantly learning how to trust God more with my life.
I might not be where I thought I would be, but I am further than I thought I could be. My life is not my own, God owns it and he has different plan for me than my little checklist.
Overall, my life is good, and I am thankful for the last 30 years on this little blue marble hurtling through the cosmos.