On Being Thirty-Eight

I turned 38 years old last week.  Or, at least I think I did.  I’m not good with numbers.  I often forget how many years Chad and I have been married.  It took me years to memorize his phone number.  And I can’t even begin to tell you my licence plate number.  A few days before my birthday, I was talking to my sister on the phone and she made a comment about me turning the big 4-0.  I had to pause and think, really think. . . wait.  Really? I’m turning 40?  Am I? No I’m not.  I don’t think I am.  Wait, no. . . I’m not gong to be 40!

After a few minutes of discussion and some careful counting on my fingers, we determined that I was going to be 38.

Yep, I’m 38.

Thirty eight was the first age I remember my parents age registering to me.  I remember looking at my Dad one day and thinking, wow, he’s thirty eight.  My dad is old.

(Shame on me, I know.)

The thing is, the older I get the less I care about the number of candles that are on the cake.  (Let’s be real, I don’t have a cake and if we did, we’d never light 38 candles).  Despite my husbands (ever so sweet gesture) of calling it my “thirty-ish” birthday, I have no qualms admitting, proudly, that yes, I’m 38.

I’ve earned my laugh lines.
I’ve earned the creaks in my bones.

I think back to my 10 year old mind and the way I looked at my 38 year old dad in awe at the years he had lived, and I laugh at my naivete. Despite the lines on my face and a few bumps and bruises earned from life, there are no cobwebs to be found on my soul.

There is a lot of living left to do and I’m thankful for the years that are behind me and believe that the years ahead are only going to get better.

Over the last 11 years a dear friend and I have been meeting.  And talking.  And processing.  And crying.  And laughing.  I call it therapy–but much cheaper.

At first and for many years, we met every week, faithfully.  Babies on laps.  Little ones nursing.  Noisy toddlers screaming over our discussions.  As years moved on toddlers became teenagers and stay at home moms became working moms.  Meeting was harder, more complicated and less frequent.  Still, we find a way to connect when we can and when we do, it feels like home.

This week we sat on my front porch chatting as our not so little kids entertained themselves much more quietly than they used to and we talked about how much we have changed.  How different our lives look now than they did 11 years ago, five years ago. even three years ago. I smiled as I looked at my beautiful friend who sat across from me and saw how beautifully she fit into her skin.  How beautifully “her” she is.

I think this is what happens with the passage of years.  As I looked at my friend, who has changed so much over the last 11 years and has only become more beautifully fitted into her skin, I saw a reflection of my own changes.  I saw how different my life looks, my heart looks, and how much more comfortable I am in my skin.  The years have taught me that none of us escapes hard things.  There are no guarantees of  an unbruised life. Hard things can happen. . . they will happen.  However, if we allow them, these things can shape us into more beautiful people, living more fully.

To stay the same, to be comfortable, while it might lead to an easier life, I’m not sure that it’s fully, authentically living.

I don’t think like I used to think.
I don’t believe some of the things I used to believe.
My heart has changed.
I’m not who I used to be.
I’m not who I’m going to be.

I have changed.  Thank God I have changed. I’m am figuring it out as I go and today doesn’t look like yesterday and tomorrow won’t look like today. I’m going to fall.  I’m going to get hurt.  I’m going to fail.  Still, this getting older thing, is a gift.  We are blessed to grow.  To change.  To become.  Whatever they might say of me, let them not say,  she never changed.