Tomorrow I turn 37. I am not feeling happy about it. Aren’t I too young to be turning 37? Didn’t I just turn 30? Wasn’t I old then? Will I really be planning for my 40th in three short years? Truth be told, I’m still not over having to check the “35-50” age category when I fill out forms. I just find that a bit much, form makers. Would you make a category 20-35? Or 0-15? I think not. When did I get to an age where I start to get lumped in 15 year chunks? It’s all a bit overwhelming.
What really bothers me, though, is that it bothers me. It also bothers me that getting grey hair bothers me. My husband likes to quote Proverbs at me: “Grey hair is a crown of glory.” And he means it. I’d like to mean it, too. I would like to face aging accepting what I know to be true – that with age comes wisdom, that I’m at a joyful phase of life, that I wouldn’t change anything about where I have landed or where I am right now. The funny thing is that if someone were to tell me that I could jump back right now to being 15 or 22 or 27 I would think: “Kill me now.” And yet, I see that number:
And it annoys me.
And I see those grey hairs.
And they annoy me.
It doesn’t make any sense!! I can honestly say that I think everything about this age is fantastic: I know that living more has made me a better person, pastor and preacher, and I realize that will be true as I gather more years. 27 year old me didn’t have a clue what I was talking about most of the time, and at 47 I’ll probably feel that way about 37 year old me – which is pretty cool. At 37, I am confident in my own skin. I have settled into the person that I am meant to be, even as I recognize that it will keep changing. 36 was a good year for me. I don’t have regrets or a sense that I have wasted any of my (almost) 37 years.
Why does it bother me?
The simple answer is because our culture tells us getting older is bad, and I have believed the lies. We idolize youth. We idealize our younger days. People say things like “Your high school (or college or university) years are the best years of your life!” And I know that when I post this there will be no end to the comments that say: “You’re not old!” Because when someone feels old, we should make them feel better by telling them they are not. Because we believe that getting older is bad, so telling people they aren’t is a compliment. How bizarre.
But here’s the thing: I know 37 is not that old – of course it isn’t. I know that to many of you I am young And I know that to lots of you I am older than you can ever imagine being. That’s just how it is. So what do I want to do for my 37th birthday?
I want it to not annoy me. I don’t want to accept the lies that there is something wrong with getting older. I don’t want to convince myself I’m younger. I don’t want flattery that I’m not “that old” or assurance that I’m “still young.” I want to embrace the joys that come with getting older and the wisdom and the confidence and the happiness that comes with it. Maybe I’ll even embrace the grey hairs….(one step at a time, people!).
I want to celebrate 37 – and, soon enough, 40 – and 50 and 60. My sister Roxanne used to say, when people complained about turning 40 or 50 or 60. “You know what’s worse than turning 50?” – “Not turning 50.”
Well, ain’t that the truth.
God has given me 37 years. There have been many beautiful things in those 37 years, and some ugly. I don’t know what 37 holds, but I’ve lived long enough now to know that I can expect that in the years to come as well: much beautiful, some ugly – though much of it will depend on how I see it.
Brown hair and grey hair. Smooth skin and wrinkles. God, give me grace to see the beautiful.
- Thirty-seven. 3 -7. THIRSTY-SEVEN. 37. Thirty-Seven. 37. 37.
I think it might be beautiful.
(One last shot of me at 36, ironically attempting to show off my grey hairs, but finding the lighting not effective to show their true glory. Trust me, in the sun, they shine. Sidenote: On grey vs. gray. I looked up which way to spell it. Turns out both are right. Gray is American spelling and Grey is UK spelling. Being Canadian I went with grey. Look at how much I’m still learning as I turn 37! How exciting!)