So, I turn forty-five on the fifth of next month. FORTY-FIVE! How the heck did that happen?!? I very clearly remember being in my twenties. Wasn’t that just last week? I remember thinking, erroneously apparently, that people in their mid-forties must actually know what they are doing. They are grown-ups, after all.
Turns out, I was wrong. Or maybe all the other forty-five-year-olds do know what they’re doing and I’m the anomaly. That would be about right.
Not gonna lie. Forty-five is kicking my butt. I’ve never had a problem with any other age. Thirty wasn’t a big deal. I’d just had a baby and had more important things on my mind like how to eke out another five minutes of sleep and if my shirt really stunk like spit-up or was the stench just permanently burned into my nostrils. Forty is the new thirty, so that wasn’t a big deal, either.
But forty-five? There’s nothing cute to say about that. It’s just old. Close to fifty. I look at the hands typing this post and they’re not mine. They’re veiny and wrinkled with swollen knuckles. They’re my grandma’s hands. How did my grandma’s hands get on the end of my wrists? It’s very troubling.
I have one thing going for me. My stress and anxiety have decreased my appetite so much that I lost weight recently. I am now the thinnest I’ve been since high school. Sadly, I’m here to tell you, a size six forty-five-year-old body in no way resembles a size six seventeen-year-old body. There is nothing cute about it. There are all kinds of dimples and sags and squishy and just…ick. Sigh.
I’ve always been told I look young for my age, but nearly two years of sleep-deprivation is taking its toll on my face, as well. Upon finding out I have eight kids, a new patient of mine (who is eighty-four, herself) responded, “Oh, are they all grown?” What the heck? I wanted to ask her just how old she thought I was, but I was afraid she’d tell me. Another patient, just today, mentioned a hairstyle that would look better on me as I’m apparently “showing too much forehead.” Ouch.
If I’m being honest, while my vanity is taking a hit as I age, it’s not my greatest struggle. I’m disappointed in the person I’ve become…or rather not become. Let me try again. I’m disappointed in the person I’ve remained.
While an honest assessment reveals some personal growth and maturity over the girl I once was, so much of her remains. I continue to trudge around mountains I thought for sure would be long conquered by now. I hoped middle age would find me firmly planted in the driver’s seat, not with a death grip on the door handle, legs flailing behind, waiting for one good pothole to completely throw me off track.
I thought I’d know more stuff. Well, more useful stuff, anyway, although I do enjoy beating my younger counterparts at Trivia Crack. Just when I think I know something useful, like how to use my phone, bam! Time for an upgrade.
And my old nemesis, pride? I really thought I’d have licked it by now. I thought for sure humility would have won the day and I’d be all gentle and Titus 2ish, as an older woman. The other evening at rush hour, I was heading out the door to take one of the girls to basketball practice and UpcycleDaddy tells me to take a different route. My normal route, the back way, has an intersection that doesn’t have a traffic light and it’s nearly impossible to turn left onto the main street at certain times of day. Like rush hour. On a Friday. Which I now understand, but as I steered the SUV the original route, my internal conversation went something like this:
“Go the front way. Really?!? I take this way everyday on the way to work. Pretty sure I have the stones to make it out there. I bet HE doesn’t go the front way. He just said that because he doesn’t think I can drive. Give me a break!”
Guess who sat at said intersection for nearly eleven minutes making her daughter late to practice? (While her daughter innocently asked, “Didn’t Dad tell us to go the other way?” and steam came out of my ears.) Yeah, still waiting on that gentle spirit.
I guess I thought, was hoping even, that I’d be someone else I liked better, admired even. But it turns out that me at forty-five is just me, only older, and more wrinkly, and squishy.
And less sure.
I remember that younger me was so certain. I don’t know where actual conviction ended and bravado began, but I do remember feeling sure of things from theology to politics to parenting, especially when thinking about everyone else’s life.
This me is different in that regard. While I have more certainty in my own choices, or at least certainty that they matter less than I once thought they did, I see so much more gray in the choices/lives of other people. Grace is bigger than I could’ve imagined it to be. I wish I’d known that once upon a time.
I could’ve used a lot more grace along the way. I could’ve given it, as well.
Jesus compares us to sheep in the book of John and says that we will recognize His voice. I find that I am better at hearing His voice as I’ve gotten older, but I spend less time listening for it. I don’t know why that is. The cacophony of voices compete for my attention and He doesn’t, I suppose. And I’m too full of myself to allow Him any room. (Again, with the pride! Yeesh.)
So, while everything in me wants to well up and dye my hair pink, or get another tattoo, or pierce my nose as rebellion against the calendar as time marches on, I think, instead, I’ll turn inward and focus on what remains.
He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. John 3:30
And I will unplug more and listen to the voice of my Shepherd and let Him direct the passion (that I thankfully still have) and continue to extend grace to myself and those around me. Because there is grace even for forty-five.
Although, I do love pink and my roots have grown out…