If you had asked me five years ago what I would be doing if I was single on my 30th birthday, I would have said, “Curled up in a ball on my bed, having a major emotional meltdown.” I’m not actually a dramatic person, but I suppose I do have my moments.
As it turns out, I am not curled up in a ball and I am not having a major (or even minor) emotional meltdown. Yay me! It’s been a rough couple of months to be sure, and I still have hours or even days of feeling angry or sad or even slightly panicked. But overall, I think I might just be happy.
I’m fresh from a weekend at the beach with some of my favorite people in the world. I’m a firm believer that good salt air, especially of the Carolina variety, can cure just about anything. My soul seems at home by the ocean. It’s one of the few places I’ve found on earth where I can just be, where I can happily read for hours on end without getting distracted or analyzing my life to death or feeling antsy. The beach enables me to rest like nowhere else, which is perhaps why this was my second of a total of six beach trips planned this summer. That much time by the water, and all of my problems will be solved by July! Ok, maybe not.
I also know that I am well-loved. Whatever salt air can’t cure, my loyal, kind, quirky, honest, hilarious friends can. I have been reminded all month that no matter what I think God has withheld from me up to this point, He has poured down the blessing of friendship into my life, and I am grateful. Friendship that is deep and lasting, the kind where even if you haven’t seen or talked to each other in months, you can still pick up right where you left off. I have friends who have loved me in my darkest moments and spoken truth to me when I most needed, but least wanted, to hear it. Friends who have prayed with me before going into church because I felt assaulted every time I walked through the door. Friends who fall off ladders in the middle of the night or try to light candles using a paper towel and the stove or vainly attempt to kill a colony of spiders that have surrounded my car. Friends who have listened to and encouraged me, and who have been enraged on my behalf. I like it when people stick up for me.
The last reason I think I’m happy this birthday is that, well, my 20s kinda sucked. Not totally, of course. Most of my aforementioned friends were people I met in my 20s. I’ve had some amazing, once-in-a-lifetime vacations. I figured out this whole real-world business (sort of). Considering that I haven’t gotten into any major trouble, I’ve been gainfully employed for the vast majority of my post-college years, and I haven’t completely self-destructed yet, I guess you could say I’m doing pretty well. But let’s be honest, the 20s were hard. Most of my lessons came at a price. I’ve taken some costly wrong turns. I’ve cried a lot of tears, and my heart was broken more than once. I think I’ve spent the last ten years in various states of angst, wondering where my life was going to go, who I was going to marry, if I was going to marry, and other life-defining yet profoundly annoying questions.
I still don’t have the answers to any of those questions, but the good thing is that I’m more ok with that than I used to be. I guess Professor Armitage (of UNC’s English department) was right—getting older doesn’t mean you figure out any of the answers, it just means you’re more at peace with not knowing any of the answers. Years ago, my dad gave his perfectionist, worrying daughter a card about how life was about the journey, not the destination. I still have that card, and I still need that reminder. My destination is secure. The end of my story will be glorious and joyful and eternal. But I want to enjoy the ride. All of my life’s ups and downs and sorrows and exhilarations and tears and laughter have been ordained by God—for my good.
I hope that my 30s are “better” than my 20s, whatever that means. I would prefer more laughter and fewer tears. I would especially like a dating relationship that culminates in marriage, not in heartbreak. I would like more peace and less angst, more wisdom and fewer wrong turns. More than anything, though, I want more of Christ.
And (my apologies if you’re offended), along with my birthday twin Taylor Sands, I want to take 30 by the balls!