A stream of consciousness post. I thought writing out some of these thoughts would bring some clarity. Not really. Bear with me on this one.
I use to find it comical when people would freak out, to various degrees, over getting older. I was amused when people would be sheepish over admitting their age. I rolled my eyes at people older than me, lecturing me about things I would never understand, and comprehend, because I was young. I found most of this ridiculous and stupid.
Psalm 90:10 – The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty;
Without even trying, here’s an impromptu list of things that are true for me.
- I’ve never listened to an entire song by Lady Gaga, Katy Perry or Justin Bieber.
- A number of my favorite albums came out twenty years ago, but when I listen to them it feels like yesterday.
- More and more I feel the effects of what I eat, and have drastically changed my diet to limit the negative effects.
- I need a longer recovery from doing tasks that require physical labor than I use to.
- I forget things.
- I don’t recall much from my childhood.
- I’ve been married ten years.
- Earlier this year I experienced Liam giving me the cold shoulder while he had a friend over so I wouldn’t embarrass him.
- I grieve when my boys stop doing certain things because they are getting older.
- I am happy because I’m seeing my boys grow up.
- Unless it is college football, or some other sport, I don’t watch television.
- I hear from people a lot, “You haven’t read/seen/heard of (fill-in-the-blank)?”
- I’ve started to hear from people, “I didn’t realize you were that old!”
- I’ve had the conversation with younger coworkers, who scoff at being in their thirties, that they are going to blink and they’ll be my age.
- I have my “scars”.
- When I was younger I didn’t shave so I’d appear older. Now I shave to look younger.
- I’m losing my hair. Let me rephrase that. I’m losing my turning-gray hair.
- High school seniors were born after I graduated from high school.
- I have shirts older than high school students.
- Students look so much younger to me than they really are. I then have to remind myself that I looked just as young when I was their age, even though I my first thought is to think I didn’t look that young.
I know I’m getting older, but I still feel young. Is that how it is?
I’m sure everyone older than me is shaking their head thinking, “Just wait, kid.”
I’m sure everyone younger than me is shaking their head thinking, “Whatever, old man.”
It wasn’t the marriage, home ownership, three kids, new pastoral role, or one of the many other things that hit home I was getting older. It’s been a number of little factors, this past year, but one major factor was I was no longer going to be in the target market for advertisers.
I’ve had people tell me they felt old when they turned 25, 30 or 40. These ages seemed kind of arbitrary, probably due to Hallmark or some other greeting card company. 35? That was tangible for me. It’s right there for marketers and advertisers. They are concerned with the 18-34 age demographic when it comes to television, music, film and more.* How that demo responds to their product is important to them.
*The marketers read the list where I say I don’t listen to music or watch television and think, “Exactly”.
To a certain group of people, I no longer matter.
It’s not the first time I’ve heard that. When I was 23, I was a missionary and helping lead a one-year missions program. Most of the students were recent high-school graduates. One of the teachers we brought in relied a lot on fluff and emotions to get the students fired up. I can still recall one of the things he said quite vividly. “Your school staff? They are old. They won’t be the ones to bring about The Kingdom (of God). Time has passed them by. It will be you. It’s your generation, the Millennial Generation. It’s the youth of today.”* The students enthusiastically ate it up and cheered. I was sitting in the back of the classroom thinking, “I’m 23. I’m only 5 years older than most of these students. He thinks time has passed me by?”
*I’m sure Christians of every generation have heard some version of this talk, and then another generation arises and the old generation is left wondering what happened. This same teacher gave a version of this five years earlier, saying how Generation X was going to be the Joshua Generation and bring about the Kingdom of God. Blah, blah, blah…
There seems to be this pressure, in Christian ministries, to perform and be successful at a young age. I had felt it in recent years. If you hadn’t accomplished something before age 30, then you were perceived as a bit of a failure. I’d hear about some young pastor who was doing amazing things, and I’m wondering what I’m doing. Churches were looking for the young pastoral candidate who was sought after by everyone, and not the guy at a desk creating and writing videos.*
*Even if those videos are brilliant!
I had to be careful because I was losing sight as to what life and ministry was all about. As God told me before, when I entered into recovery, “I need to do a work in you”.
One thing that was comforting while I was in recovery? Being reminded that Jesus didn’t start his ministry till he was 30. I can’t recall who said it, but a pastor once said that an individual’s prime years for ministry were ages 35 through 55. Who knows how you can measure that, and it’s arbitrary, but I appreciated hearing that age range as well. I didn’t feel pressure to succeed anymore, when I started my recovery, but rather could focus in on being the best man, husband and father I could be.
I am grateful God didn’t present me the opportunity to launch, and lead, the Online Campus till I was in my mid 30’s. I am grateful God did the work in me first. I wasn’t ready for the Online Campus responsibilities till now.*
*Still don’t feel ready!
As I start this quest with the Online Campus, I feel like I’m entering into a new phase of life. Why that is, I’m not sure. You’d think marriage or parenthood would’ve done that. Maybe those were transition stages to what I’m entering into and beginning now.
I am old. I am young.
I am more aware of how youth is fleeting.
I want to make the most of this next stage of life.
I am 35. I love it.