For my 40th birthday I received a very unique gift … a walk down memory lane. My parents had gathered up for me a handful of old journals, awards, school papers, etc. I sat and read through things I had written as a kid, a teenager, and a college student. And what I realized while traveling down this path called my life is that I’m more “me” now than I’ve been in a long time.
You hear about people going through a midlife crisis at this stage in life, and I guess I can understand that a little. It really does hit you just how fast everything has happened and makes you evaluate where you are now. For me, thankfully, there has been no crisis … only clarity.
Clarity in my identity as God’s child. Thankfulness for my role as a wife and a mom. And a renewed vision for who God created me to be. I don’t know if it is from getting older or from us moving out to the middle of nowhere in Wyoming, but I feel more than ever like the Emily I was growing up … the Emily who loved being outdoors, loved animals, loved writing, loved playing the piano in a room by myself but not in front of anyone, loved feeling comfortable and didn’t worry about what people thought. I read in my childhood writings that my favorite spot was in the swing in our front yard and how when I grew up I wanted to write books to tell people about Jesus. I had completely forgotten that I ever wrote that or dreamed of that.
When I was a kid, I deeply cared about people – to the point that I would physically feel sick if I saw someone in pain. As a young adult I lost some of that deep compassion due to being so worried about myself.
When I was a kid I could not have cared less what my clothes looked like or what my hair looked like. Then for a long time that became such a worry – to the point where I no longer enjoyed being outdoors because I was too concerned about my clothes and hair not being perfect. I was also just extremely self-conscious about everything, always concerned about what people might think of me. Don’t be too quiet, but don’t say anything stupid. Go along to get along – show interest in what the group is interested in. Don’t share too much about yourself – people will think you’re conceited. But your career is in music so you have to know the most and be the best in that. Oh and when I became a mom … I worried that everyone would see that I had no idea what I was doing and that I was doing it all wrong.
Now, I still have my moments when these types of thoughts and anxieties creep in, but for the most part, I don’t worry about any of that anymore! Silly example: the other day I went on a hike and put my hair in braids because I like it like that and it is comfortable. A few years ago I would have worried that people would probably think that it looked stupid or worried about it being perfect. And for a long time I would never be seen without makeup … seriously, who cares?! Life is too short! (Don’t get me wrong, I still love my eyeliner, but the point is I don’t stress about being seen without it!) And I know I’m not a perfect mom, and I don’t have perfect kids – But that is, after all, impossible.
Thankfully I have a husband who has always encouraged me in every single thing I would worry about and has loved me no matter what. He sent me this picture the other day that he loves of me – it was after a long day of hiking and I had just showered without doing my hair and no makeup. It’s not my favorite, but he loves it, and I love that.
He also encouraged me recently when I was stressing about something negative someone was saying about our family. We had gone out of our way to try to do everything right by this person, but still they spoke badly of us. I can’t control what someone will think or say. I can only just keep trying to live in a way that is pleasing to God.
I also can look back at the last 20 years or so and realize that I’ve constantly been on the search to “figure it out” as far as God’s Will for my life. Like there is this one big thing. Am I supposed to be a worship leader? Am I supposed to be a missionary? Am I supposed to be an author? Am I supposed to be a teacher or a homeschooling mom?
But I’m realizing more and more, God’s Will for me is to LIVE – and live for Him every day. There is not just one big thing. There are SO many things! All of those things are great and come and go in stages and in God’s timing and plan. But ultimately I think He wants me to love Him, to keep seeking Him, and just live out my faith in Him where I am when I am.
So much worrying about so many things in my early adult days … as opposed to when I was a girl who simply just loved Jesus. It reminds me of when Jesus was teaching and told all the adults to become like children (Matthew 18). Also, there are two different passages I’ve known and loved that I’m reminded actually go together – the verse about seeking first the kingdom of God and the verse about not being anxious about your life. I’ve often thought of these verses separately, but it is all from one teaching from Jesus and is such beautiful advice to us, from Him who loves us so much:
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:25-34)
No crisis … I am thankful for every day I’ve been given, and I look forward to living every day I have left … not anxious, but as a child of God, listening for His voice, seeking His Word and His Way, loving Him and loving others.
Clarity. It’s pretty freeing.