I am coming up quickly on what I consider a milestone – 35 years old. I know that in the grand scheme of things that is not actually that old. To my mind, I often wonder how on earth I could possibly be that old already though, because I swear my brain is still trying to catch up after getting through my twenties. And don’t get me started on how fast time flies with my kids.
Compared to some of my friends, I’m considerably older, others, much younger. (I figure with your good friends, it doesn’t matter.) I did come to a realization the other day, however, in relation to my age, sort of. I have discovered that I am becoming braver.
That sounds kind of silly, just putting that out there like that. But since I’ve turned 30, I’ve done more things that I’m scared of than I ever expected: traveling to a foreign country, twice (once doing the flying in totally by myself); learning how to drive a motorcycle; and my most recent adventure, snowboarding.
As I write this, I am currently pretty sore and really, really stiff after a weekend of snowboarding with some great youth from our church and some of my friends as well. (And before you think, wait, isn’t she living in the desert? – the answer is yes, I do. But the high country has some great snow resorts, for a very short season) I am also physically exhausted from 5 hours of riding in vehicles and getting home late and staying up too late while there, etc., etc. See, I told you I was getting old.
However, I do have to say that I’m kind of proud of myself. Aside from getting so frustrated a few times that I literally cried – hey, you fall so hard face-first (downhill) that the wind gets knocked out of you and see how you feel. But I know that probably even 10 years ago I might not have even bothered to try. It was one of those “bucket-list” things that probably would have stayed there in the bucket. Why? Because I was too much of a chicken! If something could cause me harm, bodily or emotionally, I shied away from it. Much calmer to live my life of relative “ease”.
But then I had kids. It’s funny how those little (okay, not-so-little these days) guys have inspired so much in my life. I ask them to learn new things all the time: food that looks weird, a book with smaller print, ice skating, and much more. And I while I am always cheering them on, I am also always pushing them to face the things they are afraid of, to try it out before they decide they just can’t do it.
I’m sure some of that is my New Englander upbringing – a “git’er done” kind of mentality, that you just suck it up and do whatcha gotta do. That mind-frame worked really well for me during my year of involuntary single-parenting (gotta love military deployments) – and I realized that it could and would work elsewhere.
After all, if I’m not willing to go after the things I’ve dreamed of experiencing, then how on earth can I ask my children to do the same? If I give up on something just because I’m scared or I’m tired or worry too much about how I look doing it, how can I be a good example to my boys?
Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” You know, I went back and read the whole chapter – it says “be strong and courageous” 4 times in that chapter. God was speaking to Moses, and then through him to the people of Israel, but those words apply to us right now as well – okay, yeah, I mean me. I am not, by nature, a brave person. But God clearly tells us, not just in Joshua, but in many places in the Bible, that I do not need to be afraid. That I need to trust Him to take care of me, to bring me through what He has planned out already. I tell my own kids those words, but didn’t always apply them to myself.
As I try things that are just a little crazier than I used to, I like to think I’m growing. I’m not testing God, I’m pushing myself beyond my comfy little bubble and relating to others. At the same time, I’m building a strong foundation of tangible evidence for my kids that they can try new adventures – and even if they get hurt (because I’ll tell you what, I get hurt), they can be strong and courageous, and God will be with them. Even as their mom, I can still do new, fun things. Things that they might be willing to try with me someday. And it makes me feel a little better about getting “old”.