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The big 3-0

This year I turn 30. Like many others, I have pondered this more than other birthdays. Mostly because people suggest that there is something special about turning 30. Sometimes these are really positive things. But mostly, it’s a negative thing. I have known people who have cried about turning 30, who have desparately wanted to meet the love of their life before 30 and there are countless lists going around facebook of the things you must do before you’re 30 (who creates these lists and and why do they get to say what accomplishments are worthy to name and need to be done before 30?

On my birthday, I will wake up much like I do any other day of the year. To me, there really isn’t anything significant about a birthday, let alone my 30th. It is another day in the calendar. I often don’t even celebrate it as it is a day that has painful memories attached to it. But as I move from those memories, I find it odd to celebrate my birthday – it’s just another day.

Still, people are quick to comment about this significant year.

You’re not young anymore

True. There was a time when people used to be impressed by my resume and the amount that I had accomplished at such a young age. Things have leveled out more or less with my peers and it is no longer something special that I worked for a university, have publications, have volunteered many places, have run my own business. Many of my peers have done the same – and more! I have grey hairs and my face shows signs of aging. I can no longer eat whatever I want, however much I want. Funny enough, someone last year thought I was in highschool. So perhaps my young at heart side shines through.

Still, the only time I really think about my age is when one of my siblings has a birthday. I am old enough to have a 27 year old brother. My sister who I saw being born at 14, turns 16 this year. And then there was the time that I was talking to a group of teenagers about a disney movie that they had never heard off as it was before their time. I feel old in those moments.

But why is aging negative? With aging I have knowledge, experience and wisdom in me that when I was young, I lacked. I have a different perspective on time, on my life, on God than I did when I was young. I wouldn’t trade these things for being younger.

When I was your age, I was married with kids

This one is interesting to me. I have not found my soulmate, life partner, love of my life. I would like to be married. And I would like kids. So yes, as I age, I do think about being single in relationship to my age. To be honest though, I really enjoy singleness. Sure, it would be lovely to have someone special – but so much of my life would change. Rather than pine for a boyfriend, I have embraced this stage of life. One is no better than the other, just different with different joys and different challenges.

I do fear at times that I will be old and alone if I do not find someone. I recently watched the movie about Dorothy Day (who started the Catholic Worker Movement). I don’t know how much is hollywood-ized, so i will take what the movie offered at face value as its veracity doesn’t actually impact my argument. The movie showed her young daughter who struggled with the fact that her living space and even her sleeping quarters were invaded by the ever-needing poor. In the movie, Dorothy tried to make her daughter feel like she was her first priority, but when it was cold and raining outside and someone had no where to go, Dorothy let that person sleep in her bed and she and her daughter shared. A poignant moment is when the daughter didn’t want to leave a friend’s house as the guests in the catholic worker house stole her things.

This got me thinking. Marriage and family life would have beautiful blessings that I would embrace if God gave them to me. But there are many things that I can do now as a single person that marriage and family life would make difficult. I can give of myself without consulting a husband, without caring for a child with a cold. I can up and leave. I can be out till the wee hours (not that I do, but I can). Watching the movie made me think that my life could be very rich and very full if God called me to a permanent state of singleness. In otherwords, if the worst case scenario happened and I never found a soulmate – I would still be ok and even enjoy this as a gift.

30 was when I realized I am an adult and no longer a child

This shocks me everytime I hear it. As a young teen, I took on the role of protecting (in my child-like ways) and making sure no one was hurt like I was, and no one would be hurt because of how I was hurt. When I was 16, my parents went to Europe for two weeks and I homeschooled and took care of all the day to day stuff with two of my siblings. My mom was often pregnant and needed to be on bedrest and so I homeschooled the children each day. Before my 21st birthday, I was trying to find an apartment, job and how to survive after suddenly leaving home. I have been homeless, out of work, a witness in a 5 1/2 year criminal trial process. My belongings were dropped off at the back parking lot of where I worked. It’s been so long that I have felt like I am an adult that I don’t remember what it’s like to be a child. Turning 30 is not significant in this matter for I have dealt with adult things for a very long time.

So as I ponder this year and the fact that I am turning 30, I do not approach this with excitement or dread. There is pride that I have made it this far, there is hope that God will show me wonders, there is joy as I am satisfied with my life. I hope that my thirties will be a time in which the fruits of God’s work in me show abundantly. I hope that whether I love a family of my own or the family of God, that I will offer myself generously and selflessly. That I will share the wisdom God has given me through age and experience, and to come alongside those who are young and needing the love of someone who has been there. Turning 30 is only special because it means another year of seeing and receiving God’s grace.

So bring on the big 3-0. I am ready.

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