Saturday, February 9, 2008

Top Ten Tuesdays--For Ann

Okay. It's not Tuesday, it's Saturday, but I missed this past week and after reading my good friend Ann's most recent post, I had to make a list for her--and myself! I turned 35 in December, so I'm officially halfway to 70. Leading up to my birthday, that seemed like serious business and cause for reflection. I have noticed a few more aches and pains in the last couple years. I covered up some grey hairs this Fall. I get an occasional hot flash. It's easier to gain weight and harder (much harder!) to lose it. I could be (and have been) pessimistic about aging. At first glance, it seems like all the exciting events are over and all I have to look forward to is watching my children grow up, wrinkles, more grey hair, and my inevitable demise. But, God is so good and has been gently reminding me that He isn't even close to finished with me yet. In fact, it is entirely likely that some of the best moments of my life are still ahead. So, here is my top ten list of things to be thankful for as I age or things to look forward to as I get older:

10. No more dating, finding my mate, feeling insecure about whether someone else can love me and the like. I'm married to my best friend who accepts me as I am and allows me room to grow into the person God has designed. We complement each other perfectly, though we have lots of room for improvement. I'm looking forward to God continuing to knit us together.
9. Instead of thousands of doors to choose from, there are more limited choices for my future, which is a comfort. Looking back, I can clearly see how God has guided me to this place and that He indeed has a purpose for my life. I can see how my experiences of my youth and young adulthood were the foundation for who I am as a wife, mother and child of God. Though I'm sure there will still be doors to choose from, I know from experience that God will clearly guide me through the right ones.
8. Security. Not in things or jobs or wealth or plans or my own efforts, but security in who I am in Christ. Walking with the Lord for 18 years affords me the opportunity to look back and see how God has changed me to reflect Him better. It's exciting to know that He has indeed made me a new creature and that in 18 more years, I will be changed even more. I love that He is never finished with us!
7. The older I get, the less control I feel like I need to maintain over my own life. The more I experience a love relationship with God and see Him meeting my needs, taking care of me, the more I loosen my grip on my life. I'm more willing to let go and fall back into His loving care and plan for me. I'm still growing in this area, but it's great to see some progress!
6. "Be not conformed to this world..." There is so much freedom in getting older with the Lord! It becomes easier and easier to be in the world, but not of the world. I worry less about being trendy, fashionable, fitting in with everyone else, being liked or popular. Though I don't want to stick out awkwardly or be a stumbling block for others, I'm okay with standing my ground on issues that are important to me or are issues of obedience to the Lord. Again, I'm still growing here, but I see some improvements in the last few years.
5. Personally, I love being a slightly older mom. I lived a great life as a young, single 20-something and I think because I was able to do that, I feel less need to "accomplish" things now. Not that I don't have dreams or things I would like to do, but this time in my life has been set aside for parenting. I don't feel torn between fulfilling my own desires and helping my kids achieve theirs. And, I know there will be many years to pursue my own dreams after my children are gone and being a parent will probably help me achieve my goals later in life.
4. I'm beginning to have the opportunity to counsel other, younger women as they begin married life or parenthood. I've noticed a subtle change at church as I've moved from the "younger women" to the "older women" described in Titus 2. Though I don't feel that I have much to offer in the way of experience, I do realize that 35 isn't 25 and with my age comes automatic experience. I don't know that I am wise, but I can share the many ways that God has worked in my own heart. I feel like I'm returning a blessing that many other women showered upon me as a younger woman.
3. Grandchildren. Though it is a LONG way off, I can only imagine the joy of knowing my children's children. All the fun of children without the burden of complete responsibility! And, to see my kids developing that love relationship with their own children...well, what could be better?!?!
2. I know who my friends are. When I was younger, everyone (myself included) was so busy trying to build a career, meet a mate, fit into the crowd. We were all jostling around, vying for the best position on the social ladder. Good friends, trustworthy friends were few and far between. Now that I'm older, I know who my true, God-given friends are. Some live a few blocks away, others thousands of miles. But, they all have the same thing in common: they encourage me in the Lord. I don't have to impress them or compare myself to them. They just care about me for who I am. Age gives me the ability to see who my real friends are.
1. (My favorite!) Heaven. On days when I can't think of any reason to be glad that I'm getting older with every breath, the Lord reminds me that there is a reward waiting for me at His place. Each year, month, week, day, moment, breath brings me one step closed to that eternal reward. And, if I have to leave this life with grey hair, arthritis, cancer, Alzheimer's, high blood pressure, diabetes, wrinkles, saggy skin, weak eyes, and/or deafness--in an instant, I will be gifted with a new body, one outfitted to reflect His glory. I think the contrast alone is reason enough to rejoice in our present sufferings!

So, that's my list at age 35. I can't wait to see what makes the list at age 45!


Ann said...

Thanks, Jen. I needed to hear that :) All very true. Just mourning the loss of my youth...then again, maybe that's a good thing to lose!

Heather said...

Hi, I came over from Ann's site. Great list. I love being an older mom too. Even though I know I don't have all the answers, I am more realistic now and realize that I can't live selfishly anymore. I think I would have been very selfish if I was a mom in my 20s.

Have a great day!

Kayla said...

Wow, Jen! What a great list! Your blog really is a blessing to me!

9-ah said...

Great list! You have lived a wonderful full life at 35. You have reached areas of wonder only few have reached and no you are not done yet! Yea! Only more growing and learning to go. So good.

JAN said...

Contentment. That's what I hear you saying. It is one of the blessings of being "older". Just being able to rest in where the Lord has you and knowing He is the one in control.