I just recently turned the big 3-0. It doesn’t feel old, I don’t feel old, but it does feel significant. Maybe it is because I am still living on just-married cloud nine (see featured photo). Maybe it is because my sweet Mama has always spoken so kindly of her thirties; she often describes it as her favorite decade. This has helped me always have more of a positive view of turning 30. So I don’t feel like my life is over, like my best years are behind me; I never really want to approach life that way. In order to continue being intentional and thoughtful in living, here are my commitments to my 30 year old self:
To be my own biggest fan
I spent a lot of time in my twenties getting to know myself, getting comfortable in my own skin, becoming my own friend. I was unsteady and unsure, not totally sold, perhaps, on who I was. But now, I promise myself to not live that way anymore.
A friend gave me a birthday card that says: “May this year instill in you a genuine satisfaction in everything you already are”, which feels like such a perfect picture of my journey. This is my promise to myself.
I saw a quote by Jon Acuff the other day that said, “What if you were your biggest fan instead of your biggest critic?” It is so much easier sometimes to cheer others on, and so difficult to believe in ourselves. But why do we spend so much time doubting ourselves?
I talked to one of my RAs about how great it is to settle into who we are. It is such a beautiful thing to see people decide who they are — what they like and don’t like, what they want to be part of and what they don’t — and live it out. We live so much of our early twenties pretending to like beer when we actually don’t, then our mid-twenties trying to date boys that we don’t actually want to date, and all of our twenties trying to figure out what our hobbies and opinions actually are, rather than just the ones of the people around us.
I’m hoping that during my thirties I can lean on the hard soul-work I did in my twenties and truly relax into exactly who Kallie is. She is fun, kind, spunky, and thoughtful. She carries people’s hurts and dreams, she often would prefer to chase adventure in a book rather than outside in nature. Her favorite activity has quickly become sitting on her porch with her new husband; she is loving just settling into a “small” but beautiful life instead of stretching herself thin in an attempt to acquire worth and significance somehow. And she is thirty.
To believe the best
In insecurity and un-health we start to question everything. I most certainly question people’s hearts and intentions. When I am owned by bitterness, I destroy any sermon I hear. When insecurity is loud, I can find a flaw in anyone I am around. When fear is driving the car, I so quickly find the worst case scenarios.
When I am functioning in a healthy state, however, who I want to be is someone who believes the best. I want to believe that the people around me have the best intentions in mind. That they are not trying to hurt me, that they are not malicious in their intent. I would like to believe that people who are teaching do not have brainwashing as their ultimate goal. I would like to believe that someone else’s beauty or talent or success does not diminish my own. I would like to believe that fear doesn’t run my life, that the thing I am worrying about probably won’t actually happen, and that maybe, I could believe the best.
All relationships require this. We cannot succeed in relationship if we are not believing the best about the other person. This means when the roommate leaves dirty dishes it isn’t because he/she doesn’t care about you, maybe they were running late or had a hard morning or any other plausible reason that a human person might leave dishes in the sink. Or when a person doesn’t give you their full attention in conversation it might not be that they don’t like you, but that they have some big things on their mind and maybe just need some time or space.
Fear will only be defeated when we choose to believe the best. We have to spiral upward. We have to believe that most of the stuff our crazy-brains come up with most definitely won’t happen. Fear is an amazing storyteller but a stupid friend.
It is an active choice to change how we believe. We are changing pathways in our brains, constantly, with the thoughts we choose to think. We have to decide that we will believe the best about life, about God, about the people around us.
So I am choosing these thoughts:
My friends and family love me and want me around.
People believe that I am capable of doing a good job.
I am a leader worth following.
The world is a good place, and is always moving toward more goodness.
To stay present and hold hope
I just saw the movie (based on the book!) The Art of Racing in the Rain. The main character is a race car driver, and one of his mantras is, “Your car goes where your eyes go.” Essentially saying that where we focus is where we will end up. I focus a whole lot of the time on what could potentially go wrong. I spend a lot of mental space on the anticipation of the worst case scenario, when even the worst case scenario wouldn’t be as bad as constantly living in that state of anxious anticipation. I saw another quote from Leo Christopher saying, “you’ll just keep crashing if you never take your eyes off the rear view mirror.”
I would imagine as a race car driver that it would be tempting to constantly be looking way ahead, anticipating big turns that haven’t yet come. There is probably some wisdom in this, if we do not have any idea what is coming we may end up unprepared and not ready. But we also have to maintain our focus on the present. We can’t miss what is right in front of us. I doubt that anyone has ever regretted being present to their life instead of anxiously looking forward or remorsefully looking back.
I want to hold hope, for my own life, for the people I love, for the world around me. I hope for health, for healing, for redemption in brokenness. I have seen it and experienced it, so I know it is possible. I hold hope for my students: that they will learn and grow and experience the beauty of the Lord in a whole new way. I hold hope for relationships: that they can be mended, that they can change, that they can always be better than they were. I hold hope for the world: that it isn’t moving towards hell but actually towards heaven, that it is growing in beauty and that we are in forward movement towards redemption and goodness. That might seem naive to some, but I would rather live this way than any other.
So here is to thirty: to settling in, to believing the best, to holding hope. Cheers!