Today, I turn 30!
I can recall a conversation with my former Lead Pastor about an issue that I dealt with a couple of years ago concerning a parent and a student. I shared with him about the ins and outs of the situation, how I dealt with it, and why I could not find a resolution. As I remember, I handled the incident well, but I could not seem to make any headway with either the parent or the student. It just seemed like no matter what I did to reach out to the family, I could not find a healthy response. After several moments of bemoaning, I finally asked him, "What should I do? I feel like I am trying everything possible." He kinda chuckled, and then he responded saying, "You just need to be 30."
I know understand what he meant. I learned during this conversation the difference between how people often perceive folks in their 20's versus people in their 30's.
There's something about turning 30 that truly does feel different.
I've been thinking about this question nearly everyday over the last 52 weeks. I've been ticking off the months until I turn 30. And I think I landed as to why this age seems so important to me: my 20's carry so much connotation and weight.
Ten years ago today, I was a teenager, sitting in my college dorm room at Alderson Broaddus College, Philippi, WV, contemplating the hopes and dreams of my 20's.
Ten years later, I am sitting in my over priced apartment, 3 years and 6 days into a marriage, holding a 3 month old daughter, living in Marin County, California, with 2 master's degrees and about to enter into my 4th year at Hillside Church, feeling grateful that I maser it out of my 20's alive! :)
Who could have possibly thought that my life would change so dramatically in 10 years? Only God, truly! And in between, a decade full of amazing achievements and devastating failures, as well as everything in between. My 20's roared! I built amazing friendships from all over the country. I married an amazing woman who draws me closer to Christ everyday and keeps my feet to the fire! My heart literally leaps over the ways in which I reflect on how God has shaped me, called me, and prepared me for how I would currently serve him.
My heart, however, also mourns over all of the relationships that I broke, failures that I committed, and dreams that I let slip by. I built and tore down significant bridges with friends and organizations. For some, I am the best thing that ever happened to them, and for others, I regret to say that I might be the worst.
As I wave Adios to a decade gone by, I look back with mixed emotions. I feel like I am at war inside, living in the tension between my own redemption and brokenness, filled with trials, success, and mistakes.
But as I wave Bueno to a new era, I feel so hopeful and confident because the most important lesson that I learned from my 20s was a profound one: Grace! With all of my accomplishments and failures, the most valuable insight that I learned, experienced, felt, and received was nothing that I did or earned. Rather, it was ALL God's grace! As Switchfoot sings, "Maybe redemption is right where you fell. Maybe forgiveness has stories to tell."
And I am the first to admit that I can write books on my stories of God's redemption.
I cannot even begin to think that I'll get this decade right. I do pray, however, that I will get more of it right than wrong. I certainly hope that I get closer than I did with my 20's. But I also know for sure that in all things - my future accomplishments, my future failures, and my love for family, friends, and ministry - I know my foundation is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and my story is Grace! No matter what I get right or wrong, that is the truth of my life, and I thank God for his unending, unbounded grace and patience with me.
Indeed, redemption is right where I fell over and over again, and by the grace of God, he picked me up and turned my own sin into his glory! Praise God!
Hello, 30! I've been looking forward to you...
QUESTION: Are you 30? If so, what insights did you gain from your 20's? If not, then what kind of insights do you hope to gain during the remainder of your teens and 20's?