When we turned 33, my friend and I called it our “Jesus Year” or our “Year of Fulfillment.” We were joking, of course, but it did give us perspective about our lives in the light of what Jesus accomplished in His short time on Earth.
When another group of friends started turning 35, they created the “Halfway-to-70 Club,” complete with a cheesy banner to add our names as each of us reached the milestone.
Tomorrow, I leave the “Halfway-to-70 Club” behind. There are no new momentous thirtysomething occasions left to check off the list. There’s no “Halfway-to-72 Club,” no “Jesus Year,” no “Dirty Thirty.”
My next major milestone will be “The Year that Shall Remain Nameless.”
Every birthday I take a moment to reflect upon the previous year or decade—or in this case half-decade—to see what I’ve learned, who I’m becoming, and where I’m headed.
While I have by no means completed my thirties yet, I feel that leaving the “Halfway-to-70 Club” does give me a bit more perspective. So with that in mind, I compiled a list of “13 Things I’ve Learned in My Thirties.” (Of course, 15 would’ve been more fitting, as it would’ve been half of 30, but the alliteration of 13 and 30 was just…well, better. And to this former English teacher, alliteration always trumps math.)
If, as Ryan says, the twenties were about getting to know myself, then my thirties have been about getting comfortable with who I am.
- Being an adult is difficult. When I was younger, I secretly judged those who were older than me and swore I would do things differently. I thought they compromised in many areas. But now that I’ve spent 15 years as an adult, I understand that life is fraught with arduous decisions. Everything isn’t as cut and dried, black and white as I thought it would be.
- It’s easier to be a critic than to give grace. I don’t want my life to be defined by complaints, a critical eye, and harsh tones. As one who is constantly dependent upon the grace of others, I’ve learned to give it in abundance instead of in carefully measured teaspoonfuls.
- I am responsible for no one’s work ethic but my own. I am to keep my head down, my hand on the plow, and do the hard work. Everything I attempt to produce should be done with excellence, to the glory of God.
- There are far worse things than being single. If and when marriage is good for me, He will give it.
- No book or wisdom of man can ever replace the Word of God. I’ve always wholeheartedly believed that statement, but an analysis of my time would’ve revealed that my actions did not support my rhetoric.
- Community is worth fighting for. If I have no one to walk and minister alongside, then I need to continue searching for a group of people to connect with. Community is Biblical, and He will be faithful to provide that which He has called me to.
- Culture does not define my theology. Instead, I must be careful to view culture through the lens of theology. The lines can be easily blurred, and I must not let my guard down.
- The importance of taking risks cannot be overstated. I don’t need to take them every day, but shaking up the status quo is a good thing. It makes me better, and it increases my faith.
- I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I’ve heard it since birth, but it wasn’t until my thirties that I began to walk in it.
- The pain of this broken world can be utterly overwhelming some times, but God is always good. His unchanging goodness is a salve to my weary soul.
- No one loves to deal with conflict. Deal with it anyway.
- I must love the Church, even when my cynicism rages and I want to head for the door. It consists of deeply flawed people, myself chief among those. Those flawed people are the very reasons it is exceptionally beautiful, each one telling stories of lives changed by grace. I must fight the temptation to become jaded.
- “I don’t want to care about earthly things, be caught up in all the lies that trick my eyes. They say it’s all about me. I’m so tired of it being about me.” Thank you, Bebo Norman, for penning lyrics that have brought me to tears over and over since I first heard them years ago. I pray they continue to haunt me well into old age.
What lessons have you learned in your 30s?
*Photo credit: NationaalArchief