Monday, May 2, 2016

Hiding in Our Thirties

Nestled back against the chair, my shoulders raise and curve under the blanket. I exhale and sink deeper against the padding and breath leaves me, then returns, alone but warm. My fingers run along the edges of the fuzzy, worn blanket and its smell reminds me of home and life and hopes and dreams. It's funny how this patchwork of comfort can be everything that was and yet waiting for the things meant to be. 

It's right here that I've found my home; this place of life that sets its boundaries between 30 and 39, a mere decade of life that oddly captures the treasure and tragedy of humanity. The decade where heart-bursting life comes forth and heartbreaking loss forgets its manners. Older and wiser than our twenties because that chapter had outlined itself in wild fancy and an energy spent on frivolity. But bated-breath keeps our inhales shallow as we look forward to our forties with apprehension because it seems our parents barely survived theirs.

Oh, my odd yet endearing thirties, I hope I figure you out before you leave me.

Because what I carry in my arms is piling higher and my muscles are strengthening with the weight. My vision, surprisingly, has gotten better with age and my mind is sharper than it was last year. Gracious days and quiet nights are gifts that are truly seen. Belly laughter is easier and salty tears don't scare me anymore. 

Why, then, does this decade sting me by defining me by what is carried in my arms and not by the woman behind those things? Is this the battle I'll fight for another four years? 

It doesn't seem to matter what's in my arms or your arms - we look first to see what's there, what's held, before we give or take. We find her capacity based on what she holds and you assess my character from the items in my grasp. We compare each other's commitments by sorting through what has accumulated over the years and our connection rests on the similarities found in what we cradle. 

It's no wonder that especially in our thirties, we hide behind what we hold.

Is this how God sculpts us into maturity? Could it be that our humanity is the quiet fight against being defined by the things in our hands (or the lack thereof)?  Is it possible to be found wholly without them and, perhaps, to embrace our empty-handedness because it allows us to be seen and therefore known?  

What good company we find in this decade, in our thirties, when we look to the One who hid behind nothing in order that we might have everything. The man, Jesus, who quietly walked into his thirties with the most genuine simplicity, who "emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men." (Phil 2:7) How precious to see that the ultimate display of God's passionate and purposeful pursuit of humanity was in the form of a man, in wretched display of nakedness. 

We've been fighting nakedness since the garden. Aren't you tired of fighting? Aren't you tired of hiding?  

The things we carry are beautiful; our Maker gives good gifts to His children. Gratitude for those things are necessary and thanksgiving breeds faithfulness. We are not, however, defined by what rests in our arms and hiding here will not lead to our safety or protection. Lay it down and let the wild world see you. Then go take a nap. Your thirty-year-old-self will thank you. 

Monday, October 26, 2015


He quietly walks into our room, long past the time of saying "good night," whimpering with wet, red eyes. He is scared of tornadoes. Again. Yesterday it was the booming thunderstorm that sent him into hysterics. Tonight he imagines our home being destroyed by a tornado. I invite him onto our bed and sit him straight up and tell him to look me in the eyes.

Pause & think: this is where I'm tempted to tell him that tornadoes aren't real. This is a moment where I can hush his worries by assuring him that a tornado isn't going to "blow our house down." This is when I'm tempted to shape his theology by saying that God wouldn't allow such a thing.

"Tucker, there are no tornadoes here tonight. But do you know what? Bad things will happen in our lives but God is always with us. God will always take care of us. So we don't have to be afraid. God is better than anything terrible that could happen to us." 

Pause & think: some people actually have their house decimated by a tornado. Their lives are shattered into literal, tiny pieces. Then their theology is shattered into little tiny pieces because someone told them that God doesn't let bad things happen to good people or that easy, sheltered living is a sign of God's blessing.

Honestly, I've never seen him calm so quickly. He doesn't argue or whine to stay longer. He doesn't beg to snuggle under the blankets. His eyes light up, he takes a deep breath, and he confidently leaves our room. I conducted a two-minute seminary with my four-year-old without a degree in theology. 

Have you considered what you're teaching your littles? Have you taken just a moment to think about how you're shaping their tender hearts toward God with the words you use? We have hundreds of moments throughout a week where we place life-shaping truths into their minds so they can cling to God throughout their lives. Put the right stuff in there first and two things will happen. First, you won't have to waste time replacing foolish ideas you've given them over the years. Ain't nobody got time for that.

More than your own integrity or time well spent, your child won't have to work through as many distorted thoughts in their adult years. Of course, their hearts are broken and twisted and will have chosen sin before they choose God. This topic though - the fears and the what-ifs and the real-life suffering they'll face - you at least have the privilege of giving them a little help. Speaking these little truths now is like planting little seeds. Your harvest and their harvest will be great.