A Quarter of a Century

Written on January 15, 2014

Well… today is the day.

It’s been a quarter century in the making.

25 years ago today, my mom was in the hospital and a very wonderful doctor was fighting to save her life and mine. 25 years ago today, that doctor told my dad that he would take home either a baby or a wife, but not both. And, most importantly, 25 years ago today, my mom and I, with help from the doctor and from God, proved that doctor wrong.

The realization that I am turning 25 has been hitting me slowly for a few weeks now. I’m not the kind of girl to worry about age—I kind of like that my age is slowly increasing, giving some sort of proof that common sense and experience have been my reward for walking the paths life has given me. But this year is different.

When I was younger, I always imagined that at 25, I would have a husband, a couple kids, a life with some sort of stability. I’m struggling with the temptation to be disappointed in myself. I am not where I wanted to be, or even where I want to be. I don’t have a husband, or even a significant other to walk through life with. I do, however, have literally a hundred amazing friends who give my life fullness and meaning, but almost all of them are far, far away from the city I live in (and I thank God for the ones who are closer—Annie, Arrianne, Patty, Dina, Meli, and Hannah, though you’re still not close enough!… I am grateful for you all and the wonderful flavor you give to my life). I don’t have any kids, but I have beautiful baby cousins, “nieces” and “nephews” that I borrow, and almost 200 college kids who lovingly call me their Mama Duck. I don’t have a job that I want to have for a long time (or even, really, for more than another year) and that probably adds to the feeling of discontent that I have felt rising slowly inside of me.

A wise friend recently told me that when her daughter was small she was very fussy all of the sudden and the pediatrician told her that meant her daughter was getting ready for a transition—in her case, a transition into crawling. Sometimes, just like when we were children, we start feeling fussy, a sort of discontent, and it is God’s way of showing us that we are preparing in our hearts for a new transition, a new path.

So, here I am at 25, searching. As a kid, the only thing I wanted to be when I grew up was a mom and a writer. A decade later, the draw to write, to create, has been stirring in my bones. I long to read, to research, to teach, to do some work in literature. I have applied to two PhD programs and I can only pray that against hope that I will be accepted, given funding, and can be able to pursue the dreams that I have had from childhood.

So, today… today, on my 25th birthday, I spent the day fighting anxiety and stress. Work has come back in full swing and I feel myself falling more and more behind, even though I’ve been at work for only two days this semester and surely, I can’t already be behind? But it is the nature of ministry that you fall behind, that students come and want or need to talk, that coworkers bless you with friendship and conversation, that God somehow breaks into your to-do list and brings life along with him. Today, in the midst of this, I keep thinking about my failed expectations and dwelling on how extraordinarily lonely life has become. I am fighting off the winter blues combined with something deeper, something at the heart of my being that involves questions of self-worth and quests for meaning—things that I am supposed to be leading students through, not struggling with myself (although isn’t that how ministry always is?). The realization that I am now 25 and still have not lived up to the dreams I had five years ago at the beginning of college certainly do not help this situation, as I’m sure friends can understand. I know I’m not the only one feeling this—it seems to be an epidemic among my friends from college and other friends besides. But usually, usually I am able to fight it off and that it hit me today of all days, bothers the heck out of me.

Fortunately, I don’t really have time to sit and stew. And, if I did, I would still have the consolation of friends who love me. I was surprised today with a bouquet of flowers from one of my best friends from college who lives on the east coast and text messages from some of my favorite people in the world. That other people remember my birthday means a lot, I’m really big on other people’s birthdays and it’s nice to have that repaid (although, not the point).

Anyways, all this discontent has to be dealt with somehow and I am dealing with it by making a deal with myself: 25 is going to be my best year so far. C.S. Lewis says, “There are far, far greater things ahead than anything we leave behind.” I’m going to take him at his word and make this year the best ever. My friend Hannah (another one, I know, I have FOUR Hannahs in my life… and they are ALL AMAZING) recommended a book called Create Your Amazing Year and I am using that, along with a subscription to Wild Sister magazine (my birthday gift to myself), to motivate me and guide me this year. I’ve watched several friends defeat this mid-twenties depression recently by making a conscious effort to do what they need to do to be healthy and happy. I’m hoping to follow in these women’s footsteps. This year is going to be a good year.

Oh, and a note: I DID  celebrate my birthday. My friends Annie and Arrianne as well as a student went with me to see Frozen in theaters. Annie and Arrianne went for ice cream with me after. It was a great night and I am so grateful for the wonderful women in my life.