Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Last Ten Years…

I’m sitting in my office on my 28th birthday. For some reason this number has grated on me, and upon self-reflection and silence, I’ve learned that it is because it feels like the end of an era. The 10th anniversary of my 18th birthday is upon me, and I can’t help but feel like a chapter is closing… 

Allow me some reflections on the last decade.


The biggest shift for most young adults in the United States journeying from 18 to 28 is a shift in family. Mine has been no different. At 18, my immediate family was my mother, my father, and my brother. We were all living in the same home we had lived in since my birth. Things were far from perfect, but life was good. 

At 19 my mother died.
At 20 my father (with the blessing of my brother and I) sold the house we grew up in.
At 22 my father remarried, and I married my incredible partner (gaining an awesome set of parents and a brother in the deal).
Also, 22 held the death of my maternal grandmother.
Mid-20’s held lots of shifting family dynamics. Those don’t need re-hashed in the public forum.
At 25 (two years ago, today, to be exact), my paternal grandmother died. 

Now, at 27 my immediate family is my partner and best friend, Garrett. 11 collective moves have brought us to the home we enjoy now. We look forward to the addition of a sister to our family when Garrett’s brother marries an incredible woman this year. We’ve both adjusted to the shift in family, but neither of us takes for granted a moment of the experience of growing up in the families we did. Even with the dysfunction (hey, every family has a weird mouth-kissing uncle, right?), we are who we are because of them. 


10 years ago I was finishing up High School. I knew that I’d head to college, but it was my intention to study education. Following in my mother’s footsteps, I had chosen the classroom. The first week of classes held a different call, however. I quickly realized my call was not to the classroom, but to the church. College blessed me with so many people to walk alongside me as I discerned.
Now, three pieces of paper later (HS diploma, B.A. and M.Div.) I’m not currently in school. I know I have more education in my future, but I love not stressing about grades. 


Similar to education, I’m in a different place vocationally than I thought when I was turning 18. I am an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. I’ve worked in so many incredible churches, and I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. If you’d asked me 10 years ago if I knew I’d be sitting at a desk with a scattering of books (commentary, hymnal, Bible) preparing for a sermon, I’d have laughed at you. Now, I’ll still laugh, but it would be with you. You may think that I’m a strange person to be a pastor, but thank God for grace, right? More on that topic Sunday (I’m preaching at King Avenue UMC. You should join us). 


Of all of the lessons that the last decade has taught me, I think friendship lessons have been the hardest to learn. When my mother died, so many of her friends came to us and said, “Your mother was my best friend.” I have always admired that my mother maintained so many intimate friendships. The reality has sunk in though on how hard that is. I’ve had some really wonderful friendships end, some just by falling apart from one another, some by separations, some by life changes. And all the while I hear Michael W. Smith singing, “Friends are friends forever if the Lord’s the Lord of them.” I beg to differ, MWS. Sometimes we need to let friendships die with dignity, honoring the life they held and looking fondly back upon the roadtrips and inside jokes without taking heroic measures to bring it back to the poor quality of life that they would hold.

I’ve learned to invest in life giving friendships. Accountable friendships. Healthy friendships. And with the friends that I’ve established at this stage in my life, I can humbly say that I’m not sure why they keep me around. I’m generally a mess. But really, aren't we all? 


I heard a proverb this year: 

Birthdays are good for your health. The more you have, the longer you’ll live.

So. True. And if I want to keep having birthdays, I need to treat my body with the respect it deserves. Some days that means skipping the tasty sweet laid out in the church office, and some days it means heading to the gym even though I don’t want to. I want to be around to support the awesome family and friends that surround me. I want to be healthy enough to engage in ministry for years to come. I want to be that woman with grey hair she earned and wears proudly.

So on this, the 10th anniversary of my 18th birthday, maybe now I can consider myself an adult. But I hope that I never fully grow up.