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.