Friday, June 25, 2010
As I approach the big five-oh, I reflect on what that means. Life passes all too quickly. I see my high school classmates one by one turn 50 and it’s fun and interesting to see all of us in light of what the years have taught us, what they’ve revealed to us about ourselves and our values… and how that equips us to live today.
Every age has its benefits. If we’ve lived as we ought we should enter each new stage better able to give and graciously accept where others are in their unique journey. I generally see in people my age a turning. A turning to appreciation. A turning to valuing experiences and people they didn’t as much before. A realization and awareness of what is lasting and what is not. A gentleness and quality of inner life that just can’t be achieved without the accumulation of years. Not everyone is like that. Many have fought against that learning and growing and have a bitter quality about them, but life has a way of smoothing out the rough sharp edges of our character if we are the lucky ones. I try not to judge though because I have only walked in MY shoes, not in another’s.
We’ve had enough disappointments to know that we can bounce back. Enough heart aches to learn compassion for the pain of others. Loved and lost enough to know the value of true love. Know that life is indeed precious and not long enough and there are never enough hours in the day for telling people we love them… for showing them how important they are to us…. but it’s deep down in the heart.
We know ourselves a bit better and aren’t afraid to admit our weaknesses and laugh about our idiosyncrasies, our humanness. What once brought us reason to wring our hands is now just a minor bump in the road that we either walk carefully over or avoid altogether.
Accumulating “stuff” doesn’t bring happiness… and the non-tangible matters a great deal more than the tangible.
There is no limit to the value of the loving face of a husband who says he’d rather have cancer and me, then not have cancer and not have me.
…being able to live without pain.
…the respect and love of your children.
…the joy that comes from helping to ease the load from another’s shoulders.
…a kind word spoken when desperately needed.
…a warm embrace and gentle word when hope is lost.
…putting your own dreams to the side (sometimes just for a time) to help make another’s come true. Loving someone THAT much where their joys become yours as well.
One of my favorite stories is about a group of mentally handicapped kids who were racing in the Special Olympics. One of them fell down as they raced to the finish line and one by one each of the others stopped to comfort the one who was on the ground in tears. They helped him up and all finished the race hand in hand with smiles on their faces.
I have so much more to learn. I know I won’t have enough time to learn all I want to or become the person I’d like to be. Life is full of joy and deep pain intertwined. There are no certainties about what lies ahead. I don’t understand why things happen the way they do, but I’ll push on. I thought I’d be in a different place now, but I have to believe I’m where God wants me to be for whatever purpose He has. I want to be present and teachable. I pray I’ll have the assurance that He walks with me and will give me the strength needed for the days ahead.