I wanted to title this post #30DaysTill30 but thought that my almost-40-year-old self would judge my almost-30-year-old self for it, and we can’t have that, now can we? But nevertheless, that is why we are here. In 30 days, I will turn 30. I will have circled the sun 30 times and done a rather lot of living in spite of also traveling at 1,000 miles per hour. It’s a funny existence, this life, if you stop to think about it.
Thirty feels firm; planted. It feels secure and adventurous and uncharted, all at the same moment.
My approach to 30 feels different than I anticipated. At 30, I thought I’d be married, with children, in a nice home that was owned, not rented. I’m not sure that I ever stopped to think about a particular location that this 30-year-old-apparition would dwell, but I’m pretty sure it was in the suburbs. I imagined friends – dear friends – who I would laugh and joke and cry with, and who would call me from the grocery store to see if I needed milk. I’d hoped for dinner parties and play-dates and familiar vacations; for a challenging and loving church and a vocation that was thoughtful. I thought that I would be planning for the next decade with firm boundary lines drawn that would define the next 10 years.
That is not the 30 that I’m approaching.
Well, it is and it isn’t.
What I imagined was the life that I had known – it was the life of my parents at 30; or the life that 17-year-old me perceived that my 30-year-old parents must have had, judging by their lives closer to 50. It had not taken into account the stress of having 1-year-old twins, or a new job or a new house – all of which my parents possessed at 30. This imaginary life hadn’t factored in my own temperament or choices or the generation that I was born into. And so, I’m here. I’m here, approaching 30 with new eyes. With different hopes. Not better or worse, I don’t think, but different.
Instead of spending my twenties building a marriage and creating my requisite 2.5 children, I’ve been able to find different adventures. I moved to the nation’s capital and met some extraordinary people who are daily changing the country and the world that we live in to reflect more of Christ’s kingdom come. I’ve had the gift of time to find meaningful work that challenges me and helps the world flourish, even if in small ways. A lack of family commitments has allowed me to give my time in service of wandering 20-somethings, energetic teenagers, and parents who need an ally. I have traveled the world with my sister and the country with my friends, even meeting new ones along the way. Dear friends have found me, and even if most of them don’t live in my neighborhood, they send letters and flowers and when they can, they meet me for frozen yogurt or drive-by hugs as they wait through layovers at Dulles airport. My church has both loved and challenged me, although both the love and the challenge have been harder to accept than I could have imagined. And this weekend, I’m throwing a dinner party.
What I have is abundance, with all the contours of real mixed in. There is much joy, but there is also deep sadness. I am well-loved and taken care of, but loneliness often creeps in. And yet I want to remain grateful. My life is a blessing; it is grace – undeserved and overflowing at every turn.
And so I am going to approach 30 as I hope to approach each day – with thankfulness. For the next 30 days, I will be reflecting on my 20s and the blessings that found me during those years. This is more for me than for you, but I’m grateful for you too, dear reader, and so I invite you into my window of thankfulness. Maybe I’ll set a pie on the windowsill or add some twinkle lights so you feel more welcome. Because truly, I am grateful that you are along for the journey.