A month ago, this conversation happened between Molly and I:
Me: Did you have any sort of crisis when you turned 30?
Molly: No, do you anticipate one? Are you having one?
Me: I feel like I’m on the verge of one. I don’t know.
Molly: It’ll be just the same as 29. Except for how you’re alone forever, hurtling towards death, carried in a fast debilitating body that will never again look as good as it did yesterday. That help?
Thanks. I think.
My 20’s end tomorrow, and all is well. I have been processing my age for the past 8 months. I’ve been practicing justifying certain things with age, like “I’m nearly 30, I’m going to eat Nutella on my tortilla if I want to” or“I’m nearly 30, I don’t need an 11 year old telling me to wear a hat if I don’t want to, I can make my own stupid choices”. I’m giving myself permission in more serious things, “I’m nearly 30, and does everyone’s opinion of me really matter at all? Who am I answering to here?” or (and praise Jesus here!) “I’m nearly 30, I don’t have to operate in the insecurities of my teens and 20’s anymore”.
Here’s my thought on the subject: There are women in this world who fight their age until the bitter end. I’m not just talking Botox and plastic surgery, but I’m talking denying their age and dressing like a younger girl and remaining in the drama that the 20’s can bring. They are the women who have a mortal fear of aging, essentially. Then there are women who accept it, and who age gracefully. They grow in tenderness, in love, in relationships and in maturity. They accept their wrinkles and grey hairs, and embrace new stages of life with joy. Is there any question about it? I want to be the second kind of woman. I don’t want to fight it. We all age, time continues on. Why deny it? My grandmother always says “None of us gets out alive”, which is very true!
There are several women in my life who are models to me of graceful aging, and I so love them for it. I look to them as pictures of what to do in the different stages. Okay, maybe my life is taking a different path than theirs, and I don’t have any babies at home or PTA meetings to go to. I remember hearing Kay Arthur share many years ago about the two ways women age. They either become full of grace or just plain crabby (also known as nagging, dissatisfied, always fearful, generally annoyed). I watch some women in both categories, and I am so grateful that there are grace-filled women as examples to me. And women who may not have always been grace-filled, but are humble enough to learn it in their time. Thanks Mom, Rhonda, Ada, Debi, and many others for being pictures of beauty that grows with time.
I accept 30, and I am grateful for it. I am grateful that I’ve got some years under my belt of stupid mistakes and deeply hurtful situations, where on the flip side I have learned God’s deep forgiveness and healing. I am grateful for this road God has chosen for me—it’s not the one I would have chosen for myself, but it is far more wonderful. I am grateful for the old friends and new ones, the ones I can have embarrassing moments with and history with, and be me with.
Last year on my birthday, I asked my pastor’s wife what birthday advice she would give me. As she baked a pie for me, she thought, and then responded with “Offer people the same grace that you would like to be shown.” At 29, I learned that I was so so very far away from a true understanding of what it looks like to offer people grace. Now that I know what I do not know, I want to learn at 30. At 29, I’ve learned that the thing I admire most often in people, the thing that makes them beautiful, is kindness. Generous hearts. I see myself and know there’s a long way to go down that road.
The way that God has chosen to write my story is that I approach this birthday as a single girl, moving to another country, traveling around my own country, and with a fire under me to tell stories of what God is doing. This is how He chose to write my story. I am not going to fight it or resent it, I am choosing here and now to accept it. Embrace it. Grow a tiny bit in grace today.