“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 3:18
Confetti shot out as I walked through the front door, while my friends and family shouted out “Happy Birthday!!” I turned fifty with flowers in every room, and glittery streamers, disco balls, and balloons hanging all over my house. My husband, daughter, and friends planned an incredible brunch with a pancake charcuterie board, while new friends and old friends celebrated big. It was truly a magical day where I felt celebrated and loved.
Fifty years is a milestone. I see many of my former classmates celebrating it in different ways. Some have posted a countdown until retirement, others are taking big trips, and some are celebrating quietly. It’s a bit sobering to realize that I have lived half a century and probably over half my life. Looking back, it’s easy to see mistakes I have made and challenges I am still facing. At the same time, its also exciting to see what the future holds. In so many ways, I feel like I have this new lease on life, with all kinds of possibilities at my fingertips.
The past few years, I have looked back at some mistakes I have made in parenting, in my marriage, and in finances. I can’t go back and fix all the situations or change direction at the crossroads, but I can learn from those mistakes and work to do better in the future. I also have seen places where I haven’t shown as much grace as I should have in situations. This is another area where I can be intentional. In the last few years, I have been shown grace in some tough situations in my life. It has helped me to move beyond the guilt and shame, and into a place of humility and growth. I intend to show grace to others, so that they can move past their own guilt and shame.
Last December, sitting at my uncle’s funeral, my sisters and I had the same realization. We were not only grieving the uncle we had lost, but we were also grieving the loss of a father we never had. Forty-eight years ago, as a two-year-old, I entered a season of trauma that lasted till I was sixteen. Although I have overcome much of the effects of the sexual abuse, I still face the impact and losses in some areas of my life. Some of that impact includes internal messages that shape how I see God, the world around me, and myself. It also shapes how I respond to others. I have been doing a lot of hard work to uncover those internal messages and rewrite the script with truth. My trauma was not my fault, but I don’t want to finish out the last quarter or more of my life still believing the scripts of that trauma.
Part of the trauma resulted in me using food to cover my shame from the abuse. I have worked hard to lose approximately 170 pounds. I feel the best I have ever in my adult life, wearing sizes I never thought were possible, and I have added years onto my life. Yet, I still have the results of carrying that amount of weight with saggy skin that clearly marks my years of obesity. I believe I could lose maybe twenty more pounds, but the rest can only be taken off by surgery to remove excess skin. Someday, I hope to have the surgery, but, for right now, I must learn to be content where I am, saggy skin and all.
It would be easy to keep looking back and focus on the what ifs. A dear person in my life, who has since passed away, stopped living her life after retirement. She enjoyed time with her family, but often spent days pondering that if she had done things differently, would her family have turned out stronger and healthier. She stopped learning, setting goals, and dreaming. I think healthy reflection is important, but I have no desire to stop learning, setting goals, and dreaming big, and these three factors will determine the future quality of my life.
For me, learning has always been important. I want to continue to explore my world not only through books and podcasts, but through having conversations with others and hearing their stories. My husband and I are looking to start a new blog in September with emphasis on interviewing small business owners and hearing the stories of where their passions come from. I also want to finish my book and maybe write more in the future. Writing can only happen through learning and reading.
As far as goals and dreams are concerned, there are places I want to travel, hikes I want to take, and experiences I want to live. I want to focus on creating memories with my ever-growing family. I want to bake a tasty sourdough bread, paint a picture of flowers, and try embroidery. I want to contribute to my faith community in ways that God is speaking to my heart. I want to work with my husband in ministering to others by creating a home that is welcoming and supportive of others in our community.
Finally, I feel the most confident I have ever felt in my life. This confidence is not rooted in my abilities, talents, or personality. There are better writers, more inspiring Mimi’s, and more driven women than I. Instead, this confidence is rooted in who I am in Christ. I believe that my God is good, is good to me, and has a plan for my life. My responsibility is to get closer to Him, hear His voice, and walk in the path He has laid out for me. I believe that He knows the desires of my heart and I am confident that, as I walk in His path, He will unfold plans that I can’t imagine.
For some, turning fifty can be depressing. For me, it feels like I am starting a new chapter in life. I can’t wait to see what the next several decades are like!