Hope you’ve had a good week. We are in the stage of summer — with the exception of Dub who is still practicing at the crack of dawn — where things have really slowed down. Since Nate is turning sixteen next month, I have spent a good portion of every day this week being chauffeured by him. I really want to think if we lived in a flatter place, with less windy roads, I’d be a more chill driving instructor, but it’s probably wishful thinking. I know the stress of it has aged me. Every time I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I am reminded that the years are more and more evident. Honestly though I want to prize age and am baffled by the cultural obsession with youth. I may have preferred the way I looked when I was twenty, but I wouldn’t want to be twenty for anything.
Last night I celebrated my birthday with three girlfriends. Yes, my birthday was in January but the night we had planned back then I had to cancel because I had the kind of cold where it sounds like you might cough up a lung. So we rescheduled…six months later. I made margaritas, bought some yummy guacamole from Whole Foods, and taught them how to play euchre, my favorite card game on my back patio. This is what I told them I wanted instead of going out somewhere. Increased clarity about how exactly you want to use your time is yet another benefit of growing older. When asked, “What would you like to do for your birthday?” you can give a specific and sincere answer. On my actual birthday the boys had their only snow day of the year, and so I had a lovely afternoon playing euchre with them. Sam detests it, but was relatively cooperative given the circumstances. I think euchre with people who make me laugh is just my standing birthday wish from now on.
But putting aside the increased self-awareness, the decreasing fear of missing out, the certainty about how you want to spend your time, and the relative wisdom, another benefit of growing older struck me this week. I was reading the Gospel of John as part of our church-wide reading plan, and I caught something I’d never considered before.
The woman “caught in the act of adultery” is dragged before Jesus, and He responds by writing in the sand.
When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. John 8:7-9 NIV
Obviously, it’s a familiar story, yet the phrase “the older ones first” has never jumped out at me before. It rings true, doesn’t it? As I get older, the more I realize that it is only by the grace of God that I’m not periodically dragged in as a counter example. My life is a story of grace upon grace, and it leaves no room to judge anyone. “There go I but by the grace of God” is essentially the defining hashtag of my life, and I hope I never have any propensity to cast the first, or any, stone.
Meanwhile our culture elevates youthfulness even though the young seldom appreciate their own sinfulness. I know I didn’t appreciate mine. As far as willingness to leave the stone casting scene my twenty year old self would’ve been last. I was a lot more attractive than I am now, but I was also absurdly self-righteous. Can’t we prize the upside of having lived a few years? Of knowing a few things? Of recognizing that only our loving Creator knows us completely and loves us perfectly?
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30 NIV
Have a fabulous weekend prizing the wisdom and humility of your years, no matter how many!