Lately, I've been feeling fearful of growing old.
Now, when I say old, I mean 30!! How cliche is that - a woman hyperventilating about reaching the big 3-0 - a bit sad actually. For crying out loud, I'm only 26, not exactly over the hill...
But it's made me to stop and think about where this fear is coming from, because we know that fear isn't from God (2 Tim 1:7) and isn't what He wants for any of His children.
I'm sure some of it is rooted in the stupid expectation of our society that we are supposed to have our life 'plan' in motion by that age, an unwritten warning that if you don't have it all figured out by then, you'd better hurry up and get a wiggle on. That kind of unrealistic pressure is enough to send any normally-level-headed-and-logical-person into a tailspin.
But as I was reading today from one of the books in my never-ending 'Must Read ASAP' pile, I felt the Lord gently revealing to me my secret (but ultimately untrue) beliefs that were causing the fear and heartache...
The book I was reading was "Do Hard Things" by Alex & Brett Harris (add it to your 'Must Read ASAP' list as well), and through its pages I had the revelation that I was feeling in a flutter about reaching 30 because I felt like I had wasted my youth - 'cos 30 is the end of youthfulness, don't you know!!
I know it sounds crazy, but somewhere deep down, I had bought into the lie that says you can no longer have adventures, change the world or die your hair after a certain age. The giant egg timer of change was almost done and there was so much that I had planned to do by now and not. Don't get me wrong, I have done some things worth mentioning - became a qualified dance teacher, got married, learnt to cook, organised youth camps, started my own business, pastored a youth group, bought our first house, supported charities, read many books, traveled to a few places... But it's just that I know I am capable of so much more, could have achieved so much more. And not just for achievement's sake. I have such a desire to make a change in the world, contribute something of significance, and because I feel I haven't done that yet, I have been getting down on myself and fueling the fear of 'it's too late'.
When people quote the Christian young person's mantra, saying "Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe" (I Tim 4:12), don't hear what Paul isn't saying. When he talks about young people, he isn't talking about teenagers or 20-something's - the idea of teenagers didn't even exist in biblical times. He's talking about people who are in the figuring-out stages of their lives, those who don't always act in maturity and always seem to have excess levels of energy and goofyness. And isn't that most of us?!
Here's what Paul is saying: It doesn't matter what your biological age is or what other people expect of you, it's your responsibility to get off your backside and show the world what someone with the power and love of the Holy Spirit inside of them can accomplish. Don't let a number, or an excuse, stop you from exceeding all previous records for awesomeness - you were made for BIG stuff! (Well, I'm paraphrasing here)
As long as when we get up each morning we stop and ask God "how can I give You glory today Lord?", and then try to follow His instructions to the best of our abilities, no day can ever really be counted as a waste. But He does call us all to excellence, so no matter if you feel like I did that some of the days behind you have been squandered, God is always going to be holding out a big, fat adventure to you, saying "don't look back, start today". So I am salvaging my dreams of publishing a book, going to England, being a size 10 again, speaking at youth conferences around the world, having children, being in a band and seeing my grandmother come to Christ - this year I've started a new blog, started saving money, started preaching training, started painting the nursery, started learning the drums, started fasting for my grandmother's salvation, started excercising each day.. well, maybe every second day!
It's never too late, or too early, to become the person you've been hearing God whisper that you can be. When you are in Christ, hope is more than a good idea, it's a guaranteed promise. Forget the past - what crazy story of love, freedom and purpose are you going to start today?