Friday, June 27, 2008

My third decade

Yesterday I stepped out of my twenties and into my thirties. It didn't really sink in until I read the envelope of Erin's birthday card to me, "for my 30 year old husband." Yep, I'm 30 (and a day now). Incidentally, Erin's card was a perfect fit for me. On the outside it read, "Some nights I lie next to you and feel like the luckiest woman in the world." On the inside, "Other nights I feel like a woman who should never serve chili for dinner ever again." Erin probably feels the second scenario more than the first.

This major life transition has caused me to do some thinking and journaling. One of the prayers I wrote went like this, "Jesus draw me to yourself. With your grace, enable me to keep my eyes on you. This next decade is going to be very significant. In one way or another, parenthood will happen during this decade. This will be the first decade in my life in which physical strength will decline. I hope to lead many people to Christ in this decade. I want to be resilient. I want to stay focused upon you! Help me to become stronger in the practice of my faith. Help me to become more sensitive in listening to your still, small voice and stronger in the ability to act."

It's significant that just as I'm making this transition and having these thoughts, I'm finishing up a great book, A Resilient Life, by Gordon MacDonald. MacDonald writes about how we can continue to grow in all areas of our lives. Many people choose to take the paths of least resistance, which leave them spinning their wheels all throughout life. A resilient life is one where we discipline ourselves so as to get the traction necessary to propel us forward. I'd strongly recommend this book.

MacDonald writes about how people who have an easy time in their 20's tend to fizzle out by their mid-30's. While those who have had to work hard during their 20's have gained the personal discipline necessary to propel them toward their greatest work in their 40's and 50's. The working hard part has certainly defined my 20's, but it remains to be seen as to whether I have what it takes to move toward greatness (as defined by the best that I can be) later in life. I do believe however, that I've been learning what it takes to get the most out of my abilities, while continuing to focus upon the long-view.

Another interesting part of MacDonald's book that applies to the flip from 29 to 30 is his section on the questions we must answer in each decade.
20's: clarifying our identity
What kind of man or woman am I becoming? How am I different than my mother or father?
Where can I find new friends who will welcome me as I am and who will offer the familylike connections that I need?
Can I love? Am I lovable?
What will I do with my life? What is it that I really want in exchange for my life's labors?
What parts of me and my life need correction?
Around what person or conviction will I organize my life?

30's: clarifying long-range responsibilities:
How do I prioritize the demands being made on my life?
How far can I go in fulfilling my sense of purpose?
Who are the people with whom I know I walk through life?
What does my spiritual life look like? Do I even have time for one?
Why do I feel empty, tired, confused and drifting?
(If things aren't going my way) why am I not a better person?

Questions I've worked through and am beginning to deal with.

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