I turn 40 today. It doesn't seem very old. At least not as old as it seemed when I was 20. I'm eager to have my family wake and welcome the homemade cards from my sons and homemade treats from my wife. Although, it feels like 40 is supposed to mean something more. It feels like I should be enlightened or I should be coming to some new understanding of life. I'm not finding anything profound. It feels the same. Alarm. Journal. Coffee. Sunrise. A day filled with tasks to complete. It feels routine. Yet, I know that I've changed much of late. God's been doing soul-dredging work, releasing anchors, and freeing me up to consider life differently. A few of those considerations...
At 40, it's fairly safe to assume I won't make the NBA as I'd dreamed as a child. However, I never imagined I'd realize a dream much better - watching and attending games of all sorts with my sons, us high-fiving, cheering, and soaking in the moments. There isn't much better than this.
At 40, I realize how idealisitic I was at 30 and how selfish I was at 20. In the decades prior, I'd often thought that I had it all figured out. Now I realize how much I did not know and how much I still do not know. I now look ahead, eager to learn, grow, and lean into the person God created me to become. Then, I'd arrived. Now, I'm becoming.
At 40, I realize the miracle of my marriage. In our youth, my wife and I made decisions we would now undo, if one could undo the already done. Some of those decisions turned into baggage that we unknowingly carried into our wedding day. We didn't unpack those bags for the many of the early years of our marriage, the neglect creating more baggage. With God's amazing grace, we've been unpacking in recent years or, at times, just dumping suitcases of messiness and then dealing with the clutter. As the song goes, we've been "broken together." The baggage strewn about has been a difficult, beautiful mess. We once sat with a couple much older and wiser than us and the husband said that he loved his wife so much differently than he did in their early years - more than he knew possible. It was a deeper, soul-melding love, he said. I didn't know what he meant at the time. I do today.
At 40, I'm rejuvenated with the therapeutic joy of running. Over the past four years, I had stopped running distance races as I told myself that I was no longer able. In the past 5 months I completed two half-marathons because I told myself I will. The stories we tell ourselves, particularly those about ourselves, guide and govern our reality.
At 40, I hear politicians promise of a new tomorrow. I heard the same at 30 and at 20, only then I believed them. I realize that our political leaders can help create frameworks for civility, but that our lust for power and position always gets in the way. Well beyond my political affiliation, I'm more committed today to a greater call humbly stated centuries ago when Jesus challenged us to love God and love people. Do that, he said, and everything else falls into place. It does.
A friend sent me a text last night that read, "We are the same little kids we were at 12, but much, much wiser and blessed beyond what we are worthy!" I think back to those days as a 12-year-old. We were running go-karts in the rural fields of Newville. We were waging basketball wars on driveway courts. We were young and alive and innocent and strong. At 40, I realize the it's the moments that count. Each day is a gift, not to be stored or shelved or held tightly, but rather each magnificent day is to be opened with anticipation and savored with gratitude and held lightly, as if it weren't ours to own. It's to live openhanded. My kids feet bounce down the wooden stairs now. Another day, never routine, begins anew. I am 40 and I still have much to learn. God is still working. I am still learning. Life isn't what I demanded at 20, dreamed at 30, or expected at 40. It's more. And I'm blessed.