I hit a milestone this year: I turned 50. As the day grew closer, I found myself anticipating the big one with some trepidation. Growing up, my grandma would frequently refer to the “change of life” as the worst time in a women’s life, and she painted a bleak picture of menopause and growing older with scary scenarios of things like women’s uteruses falling out, horrible hot flashes, and emotional breakdowns. Yeah, fun times that I was not looking forward to. I put a lot of what she said out of my mind until I turned 40, and those fears started creeping up again. I was in college at that time, and those persistent fears led me to choose women and mid-life crisis as a topic for my research project. I thought it would help me to understand and cope with the psychological and physical changes that were around the corner. The things I learned from my research eased my fears, as I learned that a lot of it has to do with attitude and perspective. So that knowledge reassured me throughout my 40’s. But then I turned 50.
I tend to think and overthink things. That is my introvert and OCD mind. I think the hardest thing for me was realizing how short life really is. Life expectancy can be 70 or 80, and I realized that I only have 20 or 30 years left, God willing. When I look backwards 20 years, those memories seem like they only occurred a short time ago. The reality that “life is only a vapor” (James 4:14) hit me hard. I see that more and more people I used to know from different circles are passing away. Some younger, some older, and the realization that tomorrow is not promised to anyone makes me appreciate each day on earth more. Another difficult thing for me was looking back and wishing I could rectify some of the mistake I made. The phrase “youth is wasted on the young” takes on new meaning for me. While I catch myself being dragged down with regret, the Lord reminds me that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). I know God knows that I am but dust (Psalm 103:14), and I am not the same person I was back then. He has given me wisdom, and He will use that wisdom for His glory. I also take comfort that God restores the years the locust have eaten (Joel 2:25). He has preserved my life. There have been many time that I look back and wonder how did I survive some of the crazy, dunderheaded, dangerous choices I made? God had His hand on my life and protected me for a long time, even before I knew Him! He has provided for me abundantly, and gave me the desire of my heart, my wonderful husband, when I was 45. Who says God doesn’t restore and work miracles? And since I have seen firsthand what God has already done in my life, I trust that He will resolve the things in my life that I am still waiting on, things that seem impossible to me, but to Him all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). I trust that He will continue to restore those years, fixing damage that was done by my poor choices and ignorance.
With this new decade, I am learning that a lot of stuff doesn’t matter, and I need to live more simply and fully, and because I have Jesus, that means more abundantly. I find that I appreciate God’s natural beauty more. I would rather be outdoors with my husband, experiencing nature and wildlife, than wasting it on artificial, meaningless things. Time doesn’t stand still for anyone, and every minute is valuable. I stopped sweating the small stuff. I stopped stressing about my appearances and caring what others might think (Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”- Ecclesiastes. 1:2). I don’t feel the need to be perfect anymore, worrying about matching my shoes to my outfits, concealing my tummy bulge, or worrying what people think if they knew I shop at thrift stores. I march to the beat of my own drum, and feel okay that I still dress like I’m in the 1970’s and 1980’s. And I started to embrace my gray hair. I decided to stop coloring it about a year ago, for several reasons (time, money, health), and it has been liberating. I like how the Contemporary English Version bible refers to gray hair: "Young people take pride in their strength, but the gray hairs of wisdom are even more beautiful." (Proverbs 20:29). If this isn’t a comforting scripture for growing old, I don’t know what is. There are many such scriptures in the bible that show God values older women and gray hair, and His opinion is all that matters.
Turning 50 also made me see that I have to “let go and let God” more, and live that truth each day. It’s hard sometimes, and I have to be reminded of that daily. Whatever problem comes up, I tell God to take over, then have I peace for the day. But in the morning, I take up whatever the worry of the day is, and I start the cycle all over again. But God is faithful. And patient. I am so thankful for His patience with me. It seems that turning 50 gave me some gumption, because I made the momentous decision of packing up and leaving California, the state I was born and raised in. It was not easy, but with a lot of prayer, support of Godly friends, and God opening the door to my new job, we made the move. I had to really trust God with this decision, even when it seemed so scary, and especially when I encountered some resistance from people. I had to forge ahead and trust that God was leading the way. I had to trust my husband as leader and submit to him. I am terrible when it comes to making decisions. Being OCD, I tend to ruminate over things until my brain is ready to explode. So when I asked God for guidance so I wouldn’t make the wrong decision, I had to give up everything that was of me, and let Him lead the way. And He opened doors that my human mind could not comprehend. From giving me the job that came out of nowhere, to leading us to an apartment that we could afford and was surrounded by His beauty, I could fully see His hand at work. But thank goodness for His patience, because the enemy started whispering doubts in my ear not long after we got settled in, and I started having second thoughts, a sort of buyer’s remorse for movers. Getting caught up in missing my family and friends and old co-workers, being overwhelmed by the newness of my job and the unfamiliarity of my new surroundings; all this started weighing on me, and I had to rely on the Lord for strength. One day, one of my new co-workers asked me how I was doing. She told me that she was impressed with my courage to make such a big decision, and I thought to myself, “I think I’m more nuts than guts to do this”. But I thought about it later. God has sustained me during this transition. When I have moments of fear, loneliness or doubt, He is there, giving me strength. And loving me and caring for me and being patient with me when I go from praising Him for blessing me with my new job and apartment, to questioning Him if this was the right decision.
This year was a year of milestones. Turning 50. Leaving a company after 10 years. Leaving my family. Moving to another state. Starting a brand new job. But God is faithful. I am reminded of Sarah in the bible (Genesis 12-18). She had to pick up and leave with her husband Abraham to an unknown land when God told them to. Abraham was 75 and Sarah was 65 when they made this momentous journey; she was 15 years older than I am! She too experienced doubt when God told her she would have a child when she was in her 90’s, but God proved faithful. And even when doubt and impatience caused her to make an unwise decision by sending Hagar to bring forth the child God promised to Sarah, He still blessed her with the promised heir, and she is included as an example of faith in Hebrews 11:11. I am so blessed that God put these examples in the bible. He gave us His Word to encourage us, strengthen us, and show us His faithfulness. There is nothing new under the sun, and I take comfort that I can turn to Him for guidance as I continue on my journey, waiting and relying on Him as He continues to guide my steps and remind me of others who have been through the same thing I am experiencing. There are many more milestones that I will encounter, and God will continue to be there for me every step of the way.
"Even to your old age, I am He, And even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you." - Isaiah 46:4