Saturday, September 7, 2019

My Next 40 Years

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is a little morbid. I've cited it several times in blog posts and eulogies, because it fits the end of life.

It also fits the beginning, and the middle, or wherever you may be... because we take our first breath in light of eternity.

Psalm 90: 9-11, 12: "...we spend our years as a tale that is told. The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away...So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom."

Three score and ten, or perhaps four score. 

This is why turning 40 is such a milestone, I guess... because if you live to be three score and ten (70), you're on the down hill slope. 

If by some reason of strength of body or strength of mind or by the grace of God you make it to four score, those years are full of sorrow...

But we fly away. 

I wanted to write this post last night, and title it something grand, like, "On the Eve of Turning 40"... 

but I was too tired after a 12 hour shift at the hospital. 

 And as always, I'm not really sure how to put into words how I feel. 

I guess every milestone must include some type of reflection, and all the self-help books from all the experts cite the importance of self-reflection. 

You have to know where you've been to know where you are. You have to know where you are to know where you're going. You have to know where you're going to know how to get there...

except sometimes you think you know where you are, only to find out that you can only see part of the landscape. 

Sometimes you don't like to remember where you've been, because it's full of shame and fear and self-doubt. Besides, you aren't that person anymore, anyway...

Sometimes you think you know where you're going, but God has different plans. 

Maybe this is why so many go through what we title mid-life crises. 

We don't like where we've been, or where we are, and the trajectory to where we are going doesn't look so great, either. 

At 40, it's easy to look back at your life and feel discouraged. 40 is a lot of years to do nothing...

but most of the time what the world views as success isn't really success at all. 

Success at the cost of everything you love is much too expensive and overrated, and often the price of success isn't visible to the outer eye. 

As I reflect over my first 40 years, I'd like to think I've been successful. If you measured my success by some standards, I'd definitely fall short.... but I do have a decent job, I've been married almost half my life (not without many ups and downs and battles to stay that way, with a lot of grace and forgiveness). I have a son who is going to be a world-changer, and in many ways already is. I have a doctorate degree, a terminal degree in my profession...

and while I'm proud of those things, those aren't truly success to me. The older I get, the more I see things differently, I guess, and that is mostly a good thing. I'm so far from perfect, but I truly desire an eternal lens, one that is reminded that the "successes" of this world are temporal... and that one day, even if I'm not a success, I'll fly away.

So, to borrow and slightly edit the phrase from Tim McGraw, "in my next 40 years", should God grace me with those... 

May God bless me with success...

Success that means that I have  positively impacted those around me through my words and deeds. 
Success that means that I have learned to accept myself, not because I am perfect, but because I am a masterpiece that He is still working on, and because He is faithful to finish what He started. 
Success that means that I see the good in others. 
Success that means that I live in the moment, appreciating all that I have. 
Success that means I am a hard worker, even though I am notoriously lazy. 
Success that means that I love well, live fully, and laugh often... at myself, at the joys of the day to day, and the simplicity of the mundane. 
Success that means I cry with others, and always have tissues available. 
Success that means I am full of grace, so that it spills out to those around me. 
Success that means that I seek Him first, knowing that if I do, everything else will fall in place. 

May God bless me with adventure...

new places. New faces. New experiences... as well as enjoyment of some old favorites. May I embrace the natural beauty around me and move to change that which is ugly in the world. 

May God bless me with some really good books =) but also help me write my own beautiful story, a tale that is told for others to "read" and smile and sigh at the ending...

May God allow no individual to leave an encounter with me unchanged for the better, but especially may no individual leave me changed for the worse... 

May His Word be a lamp and a light... and may I not be too stubborn to try new paths, even if they are hilly and grown over because they aren't well-traveled. 

Here's to 40!  May it be the best time of my life... until next year =)