It does sound strange. It does sound old. Because anyone who is not yet forty doesn't actually believe they ever will be. But I must admit, I really am not dreading being forty.
My favorite piece of furniture in my house is my hard-wood dining table, which we had custom made ten years ago (back when custom-made furniture was the only kind of furniture you could find in Dar es Salaam). At the time, I thought it was huge because it seated eight. Now I wish it was bigger. But I love that table.
When Josiah was a baby, sitting in his high chair, he could reach the table. Once when I was out of sight, he took his metal spoon and banged as hard as he could on that table, leaving a bunch of dents and scratches.
Oh, how I mourned over those dents and scratches on my beautiful perfect table.
But then, time passed, as it always does. And now I look across the table at my big nine-year-old Josiah, and think about how quickly time did pass. And I look at those dents and scratches, which have darkened into the wood, and I am so thankful for that precious memory of my sweet baby. And I think my table has become even more beautiful because of it.
Why do we fear age so much? Why do we cover up our wrinkles and sags, as if they were something to be ashamed of...instead of beautiful marks of sweet memories, hard work, and wisdom?
I have absolutely no desire to return to younger days. I think back to my teens and twenties, to all that self-conscientious and confusion, to my introversion which prevented me from having a normal conversation with most people my own age. I think about early marriage, early child-rearing, and I have no desire to go back to the multitude of mistakes, the unnecessary anxiety, the selfishness that had to be rooted out. Of course, my life is (and never will be) perfect, but I certainly have a whole lot more peace and confidence than I ever did when I was young.
Tanzania, like many other non-western countries, celebrates this much better than my own culture. In Tanzania, age is to be honored and cherished. There's a special greeting in Swahili that you are expected to use with anyone who is significantly older than you, and calling someone mzee (old person) is a way to show respect, even if the person isn't actually very old.
Why on earth does our culture idolize youth? If age brings on more wisdom and more understanding, then it should be honored. And like my hard-wood table, if I bear the marks of growing older, then so be it. Bring on the years.
Since I'm feeling nostalgic today, I'm posting pictures of milestones in my life. It's fun to think that many of you reading this today knew me at these various stages. I wish there was a way to honor all of you who have impacted my life.
|On ELWA Beach, Liberia|
|Baptized at age 12 in Liberia|
|Ethiopia, on the night before I left for boarding school in 9th grade|
|Back in California, my favorite part of high school was theater. This is Ouiser Boudreaux in "Steel Magnolias." Will I look like this when I am 60?|
|High school graduation (1994) with my best friend Anne|
|Paul and I had this picture taken as a gift(!) for our parents. This is not a milestone picture, but I had to include it because it's so awesome. |
The paint. The dog.
|Graduation from The Master's College, 1998|
|My first class|
|Faith Blast Kids' Club taught me so much about cross-cultural ministry, loving people, and leadership. Gil and I co-led it for four years. We barely knew each other when we started, but eventually it led to.....|
|Our wedding on October 7, 2000|
|Making our home in Tanzania (and no, we actually don't live anywhere near elephants, but it's just such a cool picture.)|
|My first class at Haven of Peace Academy|
|Bringing home Baby #1|
The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly,
along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
(I Timothy 1:14)