Well, as of this Saturday, I will have survived the full year of that number I dreaded so much last year. This time last year, I was just in pieces about turning 30 and not having accomplished all that I had hoped by that age. I wrote a couple blogs about it, sifting through my emotions for truth. But mostly I cried. Cried my eyes out. You would have thought the last few seconds of a bomb were going off with the sort of dread that I felt at five minutes till the clock struck midnight to usher in my 30th year. My husband tried to solace me by giving me one of my gifts early. But still, I bawled my eyes out. And strangely, as soon as the final seconds of my 29th year gave way to the first few seconds of my 30th year, I was able to take a deep breath. I had survived the turning of time.
My 30th year started out with a great bang, taking a train ride with my husband up to New York City in my hip looking holey blue jeans and black and white striped shirt with a floral green scarf for an accent. Our train was delayed several hours. But, I got to open my gifts on the train. I wore my sparkly blue dress that night and bright neon peach heels. What possessed me to wear heals in New York City in the winter when I never ever ever wear them on a regular basis, I have no idea. As my feet protested, I sat inside the American Eagle in Times Square while I sent my husband on a mission to all the stores around us that might possibly have appropriate, comfortable shoes for my outfit. He returned with the ugliest nude color, old lady style flats on earth and when I protested he wittily replied, “Well, babe. They’re age appropriate for someone of your age.” Good thing I love him. We saw a Broadway Show and laughed about how poorly executed the music was and how even still, the large woman in front of us couldn’t escape the power of the off beat music which beckoned her to get up and shake her groove thing, stripped down to her tank top because it was so hot in our nose bleed seats even in February, all while blocking our view of the performance below. We held our heads high when we sat down for a late night meal at Juniors’ Cheesecake after the show while we chatted with our server and she asked how long we had lived in the city. That’s right, we looked so New York that night that we were thought to be long time city folk. That’ll make you feel cool your 30th year. We went to the top of the Empire State Building at Midnight…for me it was a definite nod to Sleepless in Seattle. And when we walked out of the building, there just happened to be a white stretch limo waiting outside, as if planned just for us. We took a ride for a fraction of the cost while the driver blared the most obscene and obnoxiously loud rap music. We just laughed.
So much went right the first day of my 30th year. And so much went wrong the first day of my 30th year.
The same could be said for the entire year.
I wrote a lot. But not enough.
My husband finally graduated with his Masters of Fine Arts. But the final months for completing it were an uphill, spiritual warfare-fought, stressed to the max battle for both of us.
We went on vacation. But our car died the very last day of vacation, which left us with no choice but to buy a new car on vacation with a new car payment.
I ate a lot of really great ice cream. But I had a lot of wicked heartburn.
We were overjoyed with the news that we were expecting our first baby. We were devastated with the news that our first baby did not make it into our arms.
I started Grad school. But I decided to put it back on the shelf.
We finally got to go to London together. But leading up to it, I experienced feeling terrified of flying for the very first time in my life, even after having travelled the world.
My 30th Year was not what I expected. It was marked with immeasurable joy and profound pain.
For every right thing and every wrong thing that happened in my 30th year, though, there was another element: Jesus.
I quite dreaded my 30th year. And to be honest, I’m sort of glad that it’s nearly over so that I can look back on it with relief that I survived it. (All by the grace of God, mind you). But with each right and wrong element of my 30th year, my head has been lifted because of the hope that I have that the best is yet to come.
With Jesus, the best is always yet to come. He is our hope and salvation.
I’ve found that my expectations are never realistic for the best or for the worst…except with Jesus.
He’s my one constant.
And even in my best and worst…right and wrong parts of life…with the moments of laughter and the moments of tears…He renews my hope.
In my 30th Year, these are the top lessons I’ve learned about putting one step in front of the other through the days that God chooses to bless me with…
1. It’s ok to simply pray, “Jesus,” when you have no other words.
2.When you have private or public ugly or mild cries… Your Heavenly Father catches those tears in His bottle. He remembers them. He doesn’t forget your pain. He comforts you with His Holy Spirit no matter how many times you need it.
3.When you turn 30, you become more acutely aware of your humanity and the brevity of life than you ever have before. Appreciate the fact that you’ve gained wisdom in your years to keep you from making terribly stupid, dangerous decisions, but don’t live your life in fear. God doesn’t give you a spirit of fear but of power, love, and self-discipline.
4When you turn 30, you have a greater realization of what is a priority in your life and what you like and don’t like. Don’t be afraid to say “no” even to good things so that you can say, “yes” to the main things that God has called you to do. As Lysa Terkuerst puts it, “Choose the Best Yes.”
5.Be intentional. Make small and large choices that will leave evidence of a life transformed by Christ for those around you now and that come behind you to witness.
6.Cherish the friendships and family relationships that have stood the test of time. Invest in them and go the extra mile to let people know you love them and truly care for them.
7.Be intuitive. When you see someone is hurting, don’t ask them how they are doing. That’s insulting. Do something that lightens their load and lifts their spirits. Pray for them and pray with them when you can. Reach out to them long after the events that caused them the pain have passed to remind them they are not alone as they continue to navigate through the pain.
8.Trust God at all costs. Leaning on your own understanding will leave you feeling so confused and like you’re wandering. He has built in you the only navigational system you need to travel through this life’s wastelands, seashores, valleys, mountains, plains, and plateaus… stay connected to His satellite, with your eyes fixed only on Jesus. You don’t have to figure out how to chart your course. He has done it for you.
9.The World is big and the world is small. What is done across the oceans to people affect you too. No man is an island unto himself. Pray for the hearts of those who do evil to be changed by the power of Jesus to do good and live righteously. Pray for the hearts of those who are persecuted for righteousness to be strengthened and encouraged to stand firm until their faith is made sight. Pray for their rescue and renewed hope. When anyone anywhere is persecuted for the name of Christ, so are you. When they are weak and suffering, you can use whatever resources God has given you to support them tangibly and to pray for them. Help people with what God has given you.
10. Always go with the comfortable shoe when walking around New York City. Or anywhere. You’ve got places to go. If your feet happen to be your resources for getting to these places, you better treat them well or you may not get there.
Maybe you’re about to enter your 30th year. Or your 13th. Or your 21st. Or your 90th. Whatever’s next for you, don’t give up hope, my friend. If you can learn from my own lessons about hitting a major life milestone, to God be the glory. But I suspect you’re learning your own life lessons.
Whatever your next step is in life’s journey, just be sure Jesus is with you. Whatever your expectations are about your next steps, don’t put all your stock in them.
Put all your stock in Jesus. Because when you do, you can rest assured that the best is yet to come.
You’ve got hope, kid.
Live by it.
“…What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” From 1 Corinthians 2:9 ESV