Friday, April 1, 2016
50 Years, 5 Decades, and a Half a Century
Today is April Fool’s Day. A day of pranks, jokes, and tricks. And I’ve always taken them all in stride, grinning big when someone said, “Today is your birthday? April Fool’s is your birthday? Well, what does that make you?”
It didn’t take this day to make me a fool. I came by that moniker honest and true. Early on I lived up to the tag of my birthdate—I was a fool. Sure enough. I made sloppy mistakes, nearsighted choices, and sinful plans. A fool, I wouldn’t listen to anyone; I closed my ears and sidestepped a teachable spirit. I thought I knew all about life, everything there was to know, and I was oh, so much smarter than my mama.
But fifty years has run out beneath me, seeped out in an increasing crescent. Fifty birthdays rolled right under the proverbial bridge. Five decades are behind me now, mile markers in the past—lined up like fence posts. This half century of mine barely makes a mark, a dot, on the eternal stretch of time.
I’m glad that some of the typical 50th birthday gifts aren’t what greeted me today. I’m thankful I didn’t wake up to black balloons, over-the-hill-gift packages, and trifocal glasses—given as commentary on the number of years I have lived. Someone did say to me yesterday that I wasn’t allowed to cheat and put the number candles on my cake. I had to use fifty candles. All fifty. This “friend” suggested that the cake might catch fire. What an illuminating fiasco that would be!
So here I sit on my porch. The wind is rustling and sweeping and pulling all the loose ends of everything. The neighbor’s wind chimes sound like a well-practiced bell choir. The bees are buzzing, but they are not content enough to light and allow me to pet their fuzzy backs (maybe in June when the weather is warmer). Henry is scuffling on the porch watching everything with a cautious eye. And Judah is napping, curled up right on the couch.
And I am crying.
Streams of hot, unsummoned tears running down my face. I’ll have to redo my makeup before tonight (and hope that everyone is tactful enough not to mention the swollen and puffy eyes).
I don’t feel a day older than twenty-five. Inside my head, I’m still this young woman trying to embrace every moment of life. But what I didn’t understand at twenty-five was that I need to savor the ordinary, everyday moments--tucked away to be pondered later. Brought out like treasures from antique cedar chests.
But then I look down at my hands typing on these keys. And my hands are getting older, once smooth and slender they are now road-veined. I look in the mirror, and my face isn’t exactly the right image looking back at me. Sometimes, I look at my daughters’ faces and see some of the young Tamera there. These are not sad thoughts, just observations. Matter of fact things that you just notice and move along.
What have I learned in fifty years? What truths do I know that I know that I know? Not many. Certainly not as many as I did when I was twenty-five. But for whatever it’s worth I think I’ll share that which I know.
10 Things I Know.
1. I’m still a fool. Yes, I am. I’m a ridiculous fool for the love of Christ. I understand my faith seems foolish to many in our culture today. But I’m not enough of a fool to believe that I could make it one day or one hour in this world without the love and grace of God.
2. The older I get, the less I know, and the more I want to know. The Spirit has tendered my spirit teachable. And I want it to remain this way until I take my last breath.
3. Prayer is the anchor. In many ways, we have returned to the world of Genesis 1:2—formless, empty, and dark. In prayer, I am made aware that the Spirit of God is still hovering over the face of these turbulent waters. Light will come; it is on its way.
4. The deal-breakers are far and few between. Ideologies and philosophies and man-made doctrines are moot points. When the leper needed healing, Jesus didn’t cry unclean.
5. God’s Word is utterly relevant even when we don’t want it to be. If prayer is the anchor, then God’s word is the boat. (All analogies fall at some point, just note my point.)
6. Love is the warp and grace is the weft of these tapestry-stories we are weaving. God’s love and grace assuredly, but ours extended to others. Over and over. Seventy times seven. (Mind you this isn’t Hollywood love. Nor the romantic love of the formula-driven books we read. And this grace? Not weak tolerance or leniency or indulgence. But instead, the wild and fierce and untamable love and grace of God. )
7. Kindness is more than a nice virtue; it must be rooted and established in us knowing the value of someone—of considering others better than ourselves. And that knowledge must have extension. The Proverbs 31 Woman extended her hands…
8. Community is necessary. Whether we are introverted or extroverted, we need an extended family to lift us, encourage us, bolster us, prod us, challenge us, and care for us. It’s not optional.
9. Invest in the character and eternalness of people. Especially those closest to you, those nearest you: your children and grandchildren. Don’t invest in material stacks and piles. Don’t spend your energy on the inanimate objects that often clutter our lives. Invest and pour blessing into people—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. And remember what you sow, you will reap.
10. God is good. He is a good good Father. We may not see it. We may not understand it, but anything we have given, surrendered, offered, extended, spent, and wasted for Him will be swallowed up in his glorious redemption—to be poured back into his kingdom, to bring him glory and us purpose.
That’s it. That’s all I know that I know that I know. Fifty years of learning, trial and error, to get me to this point. But I know these things.
And one more thing…I don’t want to squander anything I have left. I want the last part of my life to produce more fruit than even the first two-thirds.