Happy Birthday!

Today I celebrate my 47th birthday. Though I’ve never numbered myself among those who dread birthdays as a sign of “growing old,” I do worry these days about time running out before I grow up. At an age when the stereotypical American has worked full-time for 2.5 decades and raised kids to adulthood, I still live in the suburban-apartment version of a writer’s garrett–minus the grow-up-and-work-hard motivation of the starving artist, since I still have the easier option of writing home for money or talking a friend into taking me out to dinner. Just like a parent paying a teenager’s bill.

Actually, I can’t think of a single friend or close family member who isn’t at least fifteen years my senior. Thirty or forty years from now, when my “buffer system” of earlier-generation supporters has run out, will I still be taking the easy default route and living largely off the generosity of more mature if not actually older peers?

Am I like the patience-testing Christians of Hebrews 5:11-12 and 1 Corinthians 3:1-2, who by all rights should have had more than enough experience to be mentoring younger believers, but found it easier to keep living like dependent and spoiled children?

Of course, forty-seven-year-olds who are truly satisfied with their lives can be hard to find even among CEOs and movie stars. Sociological research backs it up: this is a prime age for being smack in the middle of a midlife crisis. Too young to retire, old enough to be growing gray hairs. Young enough that “no one is guaranteed one more day” still doesn’t feel personally relevant, old enough to feel that you’ve lived through more than enough monotonously identical days. Too old for wolf whistles, too young for automatic respect.

Old enough to fear it’s too late to change, young enough to consider charging headlong into some pretty foolish changes. When Jesus talked about the need to be born again (John 3:3, 7), He was definitely not referring to a “second childhood” and its corresponding selfishness. Sadly, people who were genuinely “born again” decades ago can develop the same “sick of the same old day-to-day” attitude toward their spiritual lives that many forty-somethings display toward physical life. There are all too many examples of lifelong Christians who decided to count church and family among the “same old things” they were ready to cast off in the hope of renewing long-lost youthful vigor.

When that happens, someone had already lost basic understanding of what the Christian life was intended to be. God wants our spirits to be ever maturing yet ever young; “like children” (cf. Matthew 18:3-4) in eagerly desiring growth yet continually reveling in the simple joys of the present; fully aware that He both sets our limitations and would have us participate with Him in incredible achievements. That is what our eternity with Him will be like. That is what He wants us to practice now, every day of every year He gives us.

You may or may not have a birthday in the near future. Regardless, I urge you to stop for a while and thank God that today really is the first day of the rest of your life. It doesn’t matter how old or young you are physically, nor how long you’ve been in your current stage of life or whether you see any likelihood of major change ahead. As Lamentations 3:23 says, God’s mercies–His desire to show us how full and exciting life can be, His willingness to help us find the best possible fresh start from where we are right now–really do “begin afresh each morning.”

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3 Comments

  1. Jo Swank

     /  March 19, 2016

    Amen! Happy Birthday Kathy!!

    Reply
  2. Jerrie

     /  March 21, 2016

    Rejoice, rejoice! And happy birthday to you!

    Reply
  3. carol doyel

     /  March 21, 2016

    Happy Birthday Katherine!! Date: Fri, 18 Mar 2016 10:44:19 +0000 To: clouisehome@msn.com

    Reply

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