30 is fast approaching for me. I don’t particularly like that piece of truth. But it’s there, hovering over me like news of an impending hurricane. The past year, I’ve been doing everything I can to protect myself from this storm of a number. I’ve bolted my shutters closed, laid my rain boots out to jump into when both wind and waters shift, and stood in the door frame to try to brace myself while holding my breath so as not to drown in the sea of all that 30 has symbolized to me. You see, for quite some time now, 30 has represented personal failure because of all the things on my bucket list I haven’t done yet by that age.
Perhaps much of it has to do with the fact that my dad was diagnosed with cancer at age 49 and died six months and 2 days later just past 50 years old. His whole life, he had held his breath and thought, “If I can just make it past 36, I’ll be ok.” 36 was how old his dad, my Grandpa Glenn, was when he drew his last breath.
I seem to be in a line of family members who become driven and a bit anxious when their parents pass away.
One of life’s most important lessons is that it’s short, even at it’s longest, as my Mom always points out.
I’ve been to many a funeral, read numerous books, and had multiple conversations that included, “Carpe Diem” or “The most important thing about your life is what goes on in the dash between the year you were born and the year you will die listed on your tombstone” or “You only live once.”
Quite frankly, the combination of these things and the fact that both my father and his father lived such few years overwhelms me and either leaves me rushing around trying to accomplish all that I can in this life or paralyzed by the fear that I won’t get to do everything on my bucket list.
Everyone loves the idea of a bucket list, me included. But do any of us remember how depressing the movie was that spurred this movement on? Well, now that you mention it, I sure do. Spoiler alert. Everybody dies. Sigh. Hated that movie.
There are so many things I’ve yet to do that I dream of one day accomplishing. I want to take my husband all over Europe. I want to write a book. Actually, I want to write several books. I want to be able to help my friend, Willingstone, buy a couple of pigs so he can start a supplemental income business to his job as a Pastor in his native country of of Kenya. I want to meet George W. Bush. I want to trace my family’s roots back as far as I can in Ireland and Portugal and go visit their old homesites. I want to meet Michael Jordan. I want to see a Carolina game in the Dean Dome. I want to see Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, and Carole King in concert. I want to visit all 50 states. I want to loose more than a few pounds. I want to read hundreds of books and to learn so many things. I want to hit up the continents that I haven’t yet (except Antarctica, no thanks). I want to meet my grandkids one day. I want to get an RV and road trip across the USA. And oh, how the list goes on.
Many of these (not the grandkids and RV tripping part), I had hoped I would accomplish by age 30. Why? 2 Reasons.
First, most likely I’d be settled down with my family and home, so I probably wouldn’t be able to devote the time or money to setting out on all these adventures for quite some while.
Second, I might not live long enough to accomplish them.
That second one is the biggest. And do you know what? Both of these rationales for my goals are motivated by a four letter word named fear.
Let’s just hold the phone here, for a second.
Who said fear was allowed to be the dictator in my life?
I never signed up for that.
Oh, but my thoughts that weren’t taken captive about the brevity of life did. They gave reign to anxiety, being scared, and conjuring up a calendar.
For some reason, I thought I could control things if I ran fast enough to put check marks by things on “my list,” I’d get them done.
But do you know what happened along the way? A couple things, really.
Sometimes, I got cut from the team.
Sometimes, I got benched.
Sometimes, I tore a muscle.
Sometimes, I got winded.
There are a lot of things along the way that have prevented me from accomplishing all my dreams. And the closer to 30, the nearer I’m growing to the knowledge that that’s o.k.
Recently, my husband reminded me of Leonardo da Vinci. We all know him for his marvelous paintings like The Mona Lisa and the Last Supper. We are even familiar with his sculptures, work in architecture and sketches. But da Vinci undeniably had dreams that were never fulfilled. Like the Helicopter. He had time to sketch it out, but he never had time to build one that would work.
Igor Sikorsky did, though. It took over 400 years and a good number of failed attempts by other inventors, but by 1940, Igor fulfilled Leonardo’s bucket list dream and created the first successful helicopter.
The older I grow, the more the wisdom that I acquire does too.
What I’m learning about bucket list notions is that we can have great ideas, but we don’t have to do them all. We can jot them down and help other people get the inspiration to accomplish them.
There’s nothing I can do to change the amount of days my life will consist of. God has already numbered them all. I’m accountable for every millisecond of my time on earth. But nothing can supersede the purposes God has for the story of my life.
Sure, I can squander the gifts and time that He has given me and not live life to the fullest. But I can’t change the purpose that He has already spoken over my role in His story.
I still want to accomplish a whole lot. And I really hope I do. But whatever is left undone by me that has not been a part of my purpose will be there for the next set of persons who have been predestined for those very tasks.
Moses wanted to go into the Promised Land. But he was prevented from doing so. That task was left for Joshua.
David wanted to build the temple pretty arduously. He even laid a lot of ground work for it. But building the temple wasn’t his purpose in life. No, that task was meant for his son, Solomon.
Are the ones who kicked the bucket before these dreams were fulfilled any less filled with purpose? Absolutely not.
Moses had impressive list of check marks to things he actually never could have dreamed of including: sending down plagues on the Egyptians, parting the Red Sea, receiving the 10 commandments, being listed in the Hall of Faith, and oh…let’s not forget the whole, being the only person on earth to see the glory of God and not DIE immediately!
David’s check marks weren’t too shabby either: first God-appointed king of Israel, killed a giant with one rock, wrote a bunch of Psalms that are still read thousands of years ago, and how about being the royal part of the lineage of the King of Kings?!
As I approach 30, I’m finding that it’s not as much about my dreams as it is about allowing myself to embrace the purpose and plans that God has for my life while I surrender dreams that may go unaccomplished to those who tread behind me.
And with that, my nearly 30 year old heart grows a little more light weight. The weight of the world that I’ve placed on my shoulders with my bucket list rolls down off Calvary and makes my steps a little lighter as I walk toward eternity with the knowledge that He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it upon the day of Christ Jesus. Even if that means the task I dreamed of turns into a torch for the next generation.
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 KJV
On the last night in my twenties, I came back to this blog post because I was feeling the same way. I remember reading it before and how it helped me gain perspective and i needed that reminder tonight. Thank you for writing this and for helping me remember i don’t have to check off a certain amount of things on my “list” to not be a failure. =)
Jenny, Isn’t it encouraging to know we are not alone on this journey? Thank you for sharing that you were feeling the same with me. I just glanced back through my own writing and quite frankly was reminded once again that this is such a process of surrendering our all to Him all FOR Him. May God continue to give you the courage to embrace His good plans over your own and may He do the same for me!