I had lunch with one of my friends from Seminary yesterday. It wasn't until I said aloud "I'm turning 36 tomorrow" that it hit me: I am turning 36! I had just gotten accustomed to being 35. It took me the better part of a year to become comfortable with this reality. Now bang! I'm 36.
One of my birthday gifts from God last night was that a couple I met nearly choked on their appetizers when I told them I am a pastor and their eyes got even wider when I answered their question of "how long" by answering "Eleven years." She commented "you have a very young face."
Thanks be to God.
I must say I am totally surprised at the fact that I am struggling with this age thing. I was raised by parents who both look younger than their years and never paid lots of attention to age. My favorite story about my Dad is the year he turned 50. I was backpacking in Europe with college friends. We had a rotation system for calling home, with each of us taking a turn calling our family, and then the families doing a round robing check in using much cheaper phone rates. On the Friday before my Dad's birthday, it was my turn to call. As I signed off, I said "OK Dad, I'll talk to you on Monday." My mother reported that all weekend, my Dad was muttering "why is she calling on Monday?" When my mother wished him a Happy Birthday on Monday morning, his reply was "THAT'S why Amy is calling again today."
I had always thought I would age in the same way. But I am finding that much of my identity was wrapped up in being "young." I went from being a "young adult" to being "young clergy." Now, I don't qualify for any of those categories... and 40 sounds soooo much younger than it used to! So the adjustment for me has been to shift my own sense of identity, and to embrace who I am now.
And honestly, I am enjoying the adventure. I think now that I have gotten beyond the adjustment to being 35, I can handle things for at least the next handful of years. I am finding that I enjoy adulthood (with no qualifications) quite a bit.