A LOT has changed in my life in the past few years. There are days I look in the mirror and am baffled by who I am, where I am and what my life entails. Not in bad ways either, just in totally surprising, "never-saw-this-coming" ways. And in these days of change and unexpected twists and turns, I am learning so much about myself and so much about life. So much that I wish I knew sooner.
I thought it'd be fun to compile some things I'm pretty sure of now, that I wish I knew then. Here goes...
2) Life’s failures, hurts and tragedies are not the end (or the enemy). I’ve spent a lot of life trying to safeguard myself from experiencing disappointment, and a lot of energy sitting in fear, bemoaning my struggles, and looking for someone to blame. I finally realized that I could be a victim and numb the pain, or that I could stare my shit in the eye and pursue wholeness despite it. I’ve learned that the real enemies are my numbing, my isolating, my faking perfection in place of pursuing authenticity and wholeness.
3) A great body image has very little to do with my body. All through my teens and well into my twenties, I strove with the best of them toward impossible standards of flawless skin, glowing teeth, slender legs and a flat belly, always feeling less-than, always discontent with what I saw in the mirror. Finally, after birthing and nursing two children, I bought my first bikini ever, not because my body was finally perfect, but because I finally accepted the beauty and magic of what my body is despite the flaws.
4) Finding and owning my unique voice in the world is a holy quest. For years, I made it my mission to learn the right answers, to speak the right way, to believe what I thought I should believe and to morph myself into the person I thought others’ expected me to be. I wanted to fit neatly and perfectly into all the right boxes. I had a lot of good intentions, but they were very misdirected. Now I’ve learned that being the unique creation God made me to be is my best gift to the world.
5) Every story, told in truth and love, is a valuable offering to the world. In learning to find and own my unique voice, I realized that speaking my truth and telling my story is perhaps the most valuable and liberating experience a human can have. Saying the hard things out loud, allowing the questions and memories and wonderings to surface, I am learning that speaking my truth in love is a life-giving force that both feeds others and nourishes me.
6) People aren’t looking for answers, they’re looking for meaningful connections. I was long the giver of “all the right answers”, until life threw a few curve balls my way and then I became the receiver of those answers. The messages were not the issue, as much as the fact that they were given with an agenda to prove “rightness”, often detached from a practical commitment to love. I have learned that it is far more meaningful to offer genuine, consistent friendship, than to persuade or prove or even pray. That people crave connection, and can see through the facades of love with an agenda.
7) Mystery is beautiful. I have gained a new appreciation for the saying, “Life is not a destination, it is a journey.” I am learning in my thirties to embrace the unknowns of life – the ups and downs and twists and turns of any good journey - and am finding along the way a place of wonder and possibility. I am learning that awe and mystery have defined the beliefs of many Christians, past and present, and am finding hope in God, the Undefinable.
8) Nature is the most affordable, and often most effective, counselor there is. I used to think that sitting in silence outside was a total waste of time or that admiring a flower or a tiny insect for it's sheer beauty was somehow too carnal. I felt my religion required me to be separated from creation, focusing on "higher things." Then, I realized that creation is a higher thing. That it can teach me about surrender and vulnerability and courage. That it can calm and heal and restore a sense of awe in me that I never thought possible again.
9) People are inherently good. We are each offspring of Goodness, created in the image of love and truth and creativity and beauty. Living with the doctrine of inherent evil limited my love and lowered my eyes, keeping me focused on the flaws of myself and others. When I realized that, despite my imperfections I am enough, I rose to the calling and became a much more whole, more loving, happier person.
10) The only guarantee is change (And that doesn't have to suck!). There were years of my life that such a thought scared the hell out of me. I needed stability and security and some guarantees in life to feel sane. But then I began to learn that change is not only inevitable, but often wonderful. Many of the things that have turned out differently in my life today from what I expected them to be five or ten years ago, are some of the greatest blessings I have. I wouldn't change all the change for the world!
What have you learned in your thirties, or maybe your forties or fifties or whenever, that have truly revolutionized how you live? Please share below so I can gain some wisdom from you!