I turn 37 tomorrow. Today my friend Maggie, who is 19, asked me if I felt 37. I thought about and immediately answered, "No. I feel 8." In my heart I am 8. I am naive and hopeful and gullible and expectant and adventuresome but sometimes 37 presses in on me. 37 years of disappointment and lack of trust and mean-spirited people and my own poor choices make me feel older. I even look at 19 year old Maggie and think how much more I have experienced. 18 years more of pain and rejection and witnessing bad things happening and being tragically disappointed. But the hopeful 8 year old is still there. Her faith doesn't waiver and she knows God to be good. She still sees good in others and is full of expectation.
The 37 year old me bought reading glasses just this week, not that I NEED them but sometimes they help make all those tiny words that are so close together a little easier to see. Her hips and feet ache from hours of standing. She isn't as energetic or resilient as the 8 year old and her cartwheel is much more wobbly. The 8 year old is passionate and cries so easily. She is moved by hurt and pain and injustice. The 37 year old has seen so much injustice. It moves her to do what she does in life but rarely moves her to tears anymore. They seemed to have ran out. The 8 year old played with dolls for hours on end and always pretended they were all adopted and that her husband was far away at work on long business trips. She doesn't give up. She plays her heart out. I have let my aches and pains and anxiety and stress push her away. But she is still there saying, "See this! Do something! Don't stop! Eat ice cream."
Lately my headspace has been filled with the worries of a 37 year old. I’ve spent way too many hours trying to figure out how to fund life. I’ve been consumed with worry over finances and the unknowns of a new life in Africa. I’ve been overwhelmed with trying to figure out how to raise money, create a school, a development program, get health insurance, help orphan kids, find a job, start social enterprises. In all the planning and laboring I forgot to bring the hope and trust and ice cream eating along with me.
I pray 37 is full of all that. And that maybe one of those adopted baby dolls comes to life and the husband on the 37 year long business trip will come home and help me do the dishes. And if he doesn’t that’s fine too because the 8 year old has got this and the 37 year old can teach her a thing or two. And this year can’t be anything but extraordinary.
The expectant 8 year old who has never had to pay bills tells me I have the greatest life full of wild amazing adventure. And the 37 year old who has never lacked, always seen God show up, has been blessed beyond measure knows it to be true.