Turning 50 - Not a time for sadness... at all.
I've been thinking about the best way to answer the question that is inevitably asked at this time in life: "So Richard, how does it feel, now that you've hit the big five-zero, the half century mark?" AARP stuff will start coming in the mail any day now, reminders that I'm in my sunset years.
Here's what I have to say about turning 50 (at least in my case):
The downside: it takes longer to recover from exercise, and fried foods don't taste good very often any more.
1. more at home in my relationship with God - more aware that I'm in the game at all because of grace and mercy, so that every day, every sunrise, every chance to share His word or share His life, is seen as a gift - something entirely undeserved. It's overstating it a bit, but it almost makes many days feel like Christmas - "Wow - another moment of beauty, or good conversation, or great cup of coffee, or Bible study, or chance to meet with God in prayer. Another good read. Another good... whatever. Thanks be to God!"
2. more at home in my relationship with my wife - everything's better. It's as if we're now enjoying the fruit of those years of trust building that come from misunderstanding, callous comments (90% made by me), insensitivities, and insecurities, the result of which, when worked through, lead to a more genuine intimacy for having been tried by fire. We enjoy all of it more now, and are better at it - truth telling, forgiving, love making, dream weaving, serving, laughing, planning.
3. more at home in my relationship with my vocation - the word 'pastor' bothered me a lot in the past, primarily because of guys like Pat Robertson (see two entries ago) who give us all a bad name. But I have never enjoyed ten years more than the previous ten - the chance to teach and learn in the midst of a gracious and forgiving community, in the city I love. What did I do to deserve this? I can only thank God for His faithfulness in allowing me to shepherd and teach in the context He's given me.
4. a growing love for young people - I don't want to stop investing in the next generation any time soon
5. more chances for adventures with my kids - Colorado - Budapest - California - Austria - Mt. Baker - wherever... it's good to be at that time in life when I'm travelling with grown up kids.
6. I'm cherishing things that I didn't before - silence, writing, contemplative prayer -
7. I'm still strong enough to do the things I love - though slower and less. Hiking, skiing, climbing, and enjoying the outdoors remains a big part of life for me. How I thank God for the days I've been given and the health to enjoy it all.
I realize that I'm incredibly fortunate and blessed by God with a full measure of health and a great wife and family. I realize too that the blessings bring responsibilities. I realize too that this is just the way my season of turning 50 is playing out - every person's experience is different. And finally, I realize that it's just a season - that it will change someday. But in the meantime... this is the day which the Lord has made - I will rejoice and be glad in it - even though the AARP card is in the mail.