Wednesday, March 27, 2019


I turned 38 this past weekend, which is anticlimactic in a bunch of ways.  40 is crouching in wait, but I'm still prosaically making my way through my late 30s for now.  My skin definitely keeps acting its age, and I spend more time with serums and moisturizer than I ever imagined in my 20s.


38 has its charms for me.  My children are hitting that sweet spot of ages where they are more independent (mostly), but they still love to be with us.  John and I understand each other better than ever, and though we still run across many of the same issues we always have, we are equipped to address them differently due to years of experience + trial and error.

I am overall healthier than I ever have been: NOT PERFECT, but I have a better understanding of what my body needs and have realized that I feel better when I eat better and exercise and drink more water and less Diet Dr. Pepper.  It's nice to know these things and *mostly* act on them - that has taken nearly all of my 38 years to learn.  John and I have also been committed to getting the right amount of sleep over the last several months, and lo and behold, this really helps the world seem like a better place - or at least, I am able to handle it with more grace when I am rested.

Now, if you have read all of this and think that I have reached 38 with a charmed existence, you would be right and woefully wrong.  Because of my natural disposition and family of origin, I have so many advantages.  In my teenage years and even my 20s, I was able to find shortcuts for many aspects of life.  I made quick work of school and sailed into adulthood and motherhood thinking that I was smart and would be able to figure it out.

This has proven to be true and false.  Being "smart" does help in life.  I can grasp ideas and make plans and figure stuff out.  But, I have always looked for the path of least resistance, and in my real adult life, I've met a truckload of resistance on many fronts.  God has led our family into things that are infinitely harder than I imagined they would be.  They are also infinitely better, so I am not complaining.  But, as someone who thought I could hack my way through, there have been a lot more tears and rude awakenings that I envisioned.

In parenting, there are absolutely shortcuts to be had.  I don't change sheets as often as I should or require as many baths as some families might, and I make some of the same meals on rotation - can I get an amen for Taco Tuesday?  But in the nitty gritty details of raising children and addressing their complex needs that are constantly changing, there are no quick routes.  And just when I feel that I am on my feet, something knocks me over again.

I am so thankful for my marriage, because John and I truly do complement one another.  This also means we come at situations from fundamentally different places that regularly need to be reconciled.  We have to submit to one another and agree that reality usually lies in between us.  Almost 14 years deep, we have more practice, but it is never easy to lay down opinions and crawl into someone else's perspective.  It takes more humility than I naturally am gifted with, and again, there are not shortcuts to this give and take.

When John and I went out for my birthday he asked me what I knew now as a 38 year old that 37 year old Carol didn't know.  I wrote about some of those lessons this week, and I can sum it up by saying that I now understand that life is always going to be hard.  The stuff we signed up for is not easy, and truthfully, it shouldn't be.  My obsession with comfort and pleasure is not God's best for me, and the longer I live, the more I understand and grieve that.

But the work is WORTH it.  The hard is sanctifying.  The good stuff - the things that will matter in eternity and shape me to be more Christ-like - that stuff is all up-hill.  I can't hack or shortcut to it.  I can only climb, one faltering step at a time.  I can't make it happen in my own strength. I have to rely on God and others along the way.  At 38, I am finally making peace with always walking uphill, though I'm still falling and failing a lot.  And I'm learning to have fun even in the midst of the hard.