[photo via @lindayun]
Something strange happens when you grow older.
Your body ages, but your mind tends to feel like your physical self would at its peak: young, healthy, strong. And despite whatever darkness might cloud your thoughts at times, whether from stress or fear or regret, our minds never seem to catch up with our bodies. We always tend to wonder how we got to where we are so quickly.
Personally, I believe there is a whole lotta beauty in this Catch-22…but there’s also a whole lotta tension. I’m 28 years old, and will be 29 in August, and the thought of having just one more year until I’m 30 sends me into a sort of panic. Not because I’m afraid of aging, per se (thank you, sunscreen!), but because I wonder: “Have I accomplished all the things I set out to do?” I’m not sure.
Getting older often means ascribing to ourselves an arbitrary set of goals we feel we must complete before [insert age here]. I’m sure you’re familiar with them. You’ve got your own, right?
“I really want to be married before I’m 25.”
“I have to have kids by the time I’m 30.”
“What if I never find the right career? I can’t be the 40-year old student.”
I have good news!
It doesn’t matter.
Okay, okay. I get it. I’m the married mother of a beautiful baby girl. I should just shut up. But I have many more things I hope to accomplish before my life is through. And I still find myself wondering, “Will I ever…? What if I don’t…?” My biggest professional dream is to publish my novel before I turn 30. But it’s a tricky, subjective process with a ton of rejection involved. Much like dating. Or building friendships. Or anything else we pursue.
And the fear of not achieving what we set out to do can be paralyzing.
Beloved, there is no peace and, more importantly, no joy to be found in boxing ourselves into limited spaces. When we do that, we get tunnel vision. We cannot see the beauty of another dream, another promise, standing right next to us.
Let me tell you a story:
When I was in college, I met a wonderful guy who was unlike anyone I’d ever dated. He was strong, incredibly handsome, funny, and kind. He was also a believer. We were very serious and, one day, during the summer after our freshman year (at the ripe old age of 19), we considered eloping. We talked about it for hours. But, thankfully, our common sense won out over our emotions. My boyfriend would make a seriously awesome husband for some girl later in life. But that girl would not be me.
We broke up a year later and I was devastated beyond compare. But I vividly remember my mother telling me, as I sat up on the second-floor balcony sobbing, my feet hanging down between the banister railings like a child’s, that one day I would meet the man who was everything my boyfriend had been and more.
I wanted to tell her to shove it.
But she was right (aren’t they always?).
That fall, I met my now husband, Pierce. Three years later, we were married.
The point of this story is not to assume that all your goals are about marriage. Or to tell you that your dreams will be fulfilled just a few short months after you read this article. No; I’m not God. And I’m not even really that wise. But I do know God. And I know He is whispering dreams into your heart that have taken root and grown wildly into beautiful ideas and hopes. Just remember that tending those roots means allowing time to pass. And not just allowing it but enjoying it! Yes, I am a married mother but these blessings come with their own difficult trials. And sometimes I find myself longing for the days when I had nothing but time for myself. That’s when I, too, need this reminder:
God will always do what He does best. We have to let Him. He created you, beloved. He knows your heart and He delights over the things that bring you joy.
He promises to see His dreams fulfilled in you.