I just turned forty, y’all. And as I began my first year in my forties, a perfect storm emerged. It involved this strange collaboration between age and experience. Things that would have driven me crazy last year were perfectly swept under the rug this year. Immaturity that would have sent my mouth reeling just a year ago, was met with … Well, nothing. Speechlessness was OK. No reaction was a better reaction.
And the little things, like birds and cocoons in the trees and the smell of wisteria and unexpected hugs, began to replace my desire for the newest trend or the shiniest accessory. I savored all the smells, and I guarded all the words. I soaked in beauty and discarded ugliness. I cared nothing about fixing my hair for my driver’s license (possibly not the best choice), nor did I care that I wore Converse on Easter. And for one hot minute, I thought I had lost my brain.
I am not sure whether I hit a midlife crisis or that my burst in eccentricity was more about simply learning to live life to the fullest and enjoy my newfound contentment in the things that really mattered.
I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. Philippians 4:12
There have been times of deep depression and anxiety as I navigate this uncharted water. I like responding to snark with snark. I like dressing the part. I like being busy. And if I’m completely honest, I even like keeping up with the Jones from time to time. I don’t really know what to do with this new me. And I’m not sure I’m ready to wear funny hats and grow bad vegetables and repeat my stories.
And then I thought back to a time where my mother was dancing to Vanilla Ice and spitting watermelon seeds. (That sentence was not a typo). And another time my dad made bonnets for chickens. (Also, not a typo). And it suddenly was all clear. It wasn’t a midlife crisis any more than it was a sign that I should have called the guys in white coats to help my parents. I was growing up. I was finding myself. I was letting go of this world and savoring every second of the Kingdom in this world. And, no, I’m pretty sure heaven does not consist of Vanilla Ice dancing and chicks in funny hats, but I do know it’ll completely be filled with the joy and laughter that those things bring!
My view of importance is shifting from worldly to heavenly. That’s why those empty words and mean remarks about my Christianity make me furious, but lend no response. They were hurting me because I was empathetic to God for His child turning away instead my own feelings being hurt. And that is why I quit caring so much about what I was wearing or buying the perfect knick-knack or taking that perfect selfie. They were items of worldly value that held no joy in the end. And that is why I saw the birds more often and smelled the flowers from afar and savored those hugs … Because I was walking towards my eternity and savoring the Kingdom walk here on earth.
Now, I forget sometimes. I’m not perfect, and I’m sho’ ‘nuff not in heaven. But I challenge you, just as I continue to challenge myself. Wear funny hats and make someone smile. And I challenge you to enjoy being broke (or pretend you are if you aren’t). I challenge you to stop and sit awhile. Don’t rush. Don’t answer that text. I challenge you to just not respond to the ugly, and sincerely thank someone when they are kind.
I challenge us to simply enjoy where we are.
As Paul so perfectly put it, that is the “secret to life.”