Updated: 10 hours ago
God has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in our hearts.
– Ecclesiastes 3:11
How do you feel when you’re approaching a “milestone birthday?” You know, one of them that ends in a “0.”
But since then, I’ve entered every new decade with a little more apprehension than joy.
I remember being twenty-nine and pregnant with our second child, thinking “good-bye youthful figure, hello motherhood stretch marks.” At thirty-nine, I stood at a crossroads: should I go back to work? What’s my calling? How do I balance it all?
Now, in the last few days of being forty-nine, I wonder if I’ve prioritized properly. Have I made the right decisions? If I died tomorrow, what would others say about me? Have I done the best I could? Never have I thought more about heaven and my own mortality than this summer.
A few weeks ago, I went for a jog on a windy road. When I came to an old cemetery, my feet left the pavement and wandered onto the grassy hillside. Some of the headstones dated back a hundred years or more. I wondered what life might have been like in America before modern medicine, cell phones, and the internet. I smiled thinking it must have been harder, but a lot simpler.
When I looked up, I discovered another woman in jogging clothes also reading the headstones. We made eye contact and I said, “Glad to know I’m not the only one wandering through a cemetery.” Without hesitation she blurted out “I’m turning 50 soon so I’m trying to figure out what the hell I’m doing with my life!”
What are the chances that two women born in the same year would both be contemplating life in the same cemetery on the same day?
I laughed and said, “Me too! Any ideas?”
As we moved closer to chat, I learned we were worlds apart. We lived in different states with different faiths. I had children, she had none. She could retire after a successful career, I was just starting mine. But as our conversation continued, all our differences fell away when she asked me how I was going “to mark” my 50th year. What? I’d never heard of that before.
She explained that this year, she began to write in her calendar one important thing she would do to “mark” each month. In September, she was going to go whitewater rafting. In October, she would visit her sister she hadn’t seen in years. In December, she was going to meet a friend for coffee in their favorite childhood spot. Every single month was “marked,” with intentionality and purpose.
As I jogged home, thanked God for this amazing encounter. I started listing in my mind the people and places I’d love to visit. In that moment, the nineteen year old in me, the one who looked at her future with boundless optimism, was back. A spark of new hope was lit. I was ready for adventure and excited to intentionally “mark” my year.
It doesn’t have to be your birthday to start “marking” your months. You can start right now! Think of someone special you can spend time with. Think of a place you can visit that reminds you of your childhood or a wonderful time in your life. Think of people and places that ignite your faith, curiosity, and courage. Then ,put those adventures on your calendar and celebrate, not just your birthday, but also your life.
3 O’CLOCK CIRCLES
Here are 3 questions you can discuss with someone or in a circle with several others.
1. Think back on the many decades you’d lived. When have you experienced joy or apprehension close to your birthday?
2. How can you “mark” each month going forward? Who would you spend time with? What would you intentionally do?
3. Why do you think God would want you to carve out time in your calendar and celebrate life?
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