I remember my twenties fondly. I was skinny, fell in love, drove a fuel-efficient sedan, and had perky boobs. The hardest decisions revolved around owning a *gulp* minivan and whether reading the "Twilight" series would affect my salvation. I was a newlywed, then a young mom with her "accessory baby." My twenties disappeared and I was still a smiling mom, pregnant with the third, and naively hopeful I would quickly slip back into pre-pregnancy jeans. Clothing for the kids could still be found in the toddler section at Target and my grocery budget was manageable. Unless I needed extra wine coolers that month.
Easy. My twenties were easy. I certainly felt like I had it hard some of the time and there were definitely ups and downs. But when I look back at the life happening to us, it was mostly normal and, best of all, predictable. Love. Marriage. Babies. Mortgage.
Then something changed when thirty blew in like a sneaky old lady with a carpet bag of hot coals. She was supposed to bring Werther's Originals. Or at least peppermints and a Red Bull because I don't sleep well and forget to brush my teeth most mornings.
My thirties have brought the worst kind of heartache and a buttload of perspective. We lost our daughter in the middle of a hot, sticky summer when the hardest struggle should have been picking out a good watermelon. I wanted to be stressed about whether I should buy 50 or 60 SPF, not grieving till my heart fell out.
Then I was taking flowers to my best long-time friend who had a hard and disappointing miscarriage while out of town. She should have been debating whether or not to take her kids to the next JBF sale, not heartbroken that there was no longer a baby to buy for.
I still have the text that reads "The ER doctor made it sound like cancer" from my best friend about her husband. And just like that I'm watching the BFF talk about radiation, oncologists, surgery, and scans.
Thirties, what the hell?!
Should I have seen it all coming? That the glitter of life must eventually wear thin and ugly would start to peek through? Did I somewhere start believing that human life...American life...is cushy and protected? Or that I would be immune to hardships because I love God and gave my life to Jesus a long time ago?
These trials make me feel a soldier sisterhood with the women I'm honored to call friends. We face these shadow-days with a reservoir of faith and hope and remember often that joy is always before us. We embrace Jesus through the lessons of life, when the lessons themselves aren't worthy of our strength and fighting hearts. We stand. We fight.
And we heal.
The thirties have brought scars that add to our compassion and wisdom. They've taken more than most of us thought we had to give. We stand, older and darker, sunburnt and broken, but we stand with a stronger vision and better sight. We know how to fight for our husbands and children and their futures. And we are learning what matters and what is waste. Very much is waste and very little matters.
I think I will look back at my thirties with the most gratitude and deep affection. For it is in my thirties that I discovered the depth of my strength and character. It's here that I've watched beautiful - no, glorious - light emerge from friends as they process loss and trials and hardships. Our compasses are fine-tuned and our anchors hold steady in fiercer storms.
And besides, I found Pinterest, BB cream, and great bras. Hallelujah.