I have a vivd memory from my childhood of going to a birthday party with my parents for someone who was turning 40. There were black balloons and black signs proclaiming, ‘Over the Hill.’ There were gifts given of walkers, Preparation H and adult diapers. In that moment, I assumed turning 40 meant you were old and your life was over. This month, I am the one turning 40. And my perspective of the phrase, ‘Over the Hill,’ has changed quite a bit.
When my thirties began, I was wholly unaware of what this decade would bring me. It started with my little family of three becoming a family of four, and later, a family of five. There were significant moments of pain and of struggle. Of feeling utterly overwhelmed and defeated. Times of complete devastation and heartache. Of feeling worthless, hopeless and lost. Moments when I was completely unsure my Father, God, knew who I was. Moments when I didn’t know who I was. Somewhere in the midst of the mess, my husband received wisdom from a dear friend who said, “Live in the day and measure in the decade.” I didn’t fully understand the meaning and power behind this statement until I found myself ascending the hill titled, 40.
The most profound challenge I faced in my thirties was the loss of my mom to pancreatic cancer. To watch her suffer, to watch my dad suffer, was heart breaking. To navigate the waters of being present for my parents while also having three children who needed me to be present for each of them, was like trying to walk a tightrope suspended over the Grand Canyon. And then to process this deep loss that I had never experienced before with those same eyes watching me and needing me, caused me to feel paralyzed by the weight of the pressure. I was doing the best I could in those difficult moments, but feeling as though I were blowing it. My score card was reading: World-10 Robin-0. Lacking in patience, love and strength. Failing as a mom, wife, friend and even failing in Grief 101 class. Overall, a complete mess.
When a canopy of ‘Live in the day and measure in the decade,’ is placed over my thirties, the score cards disappear and I’m given eyes of grace, compassion and kindness. I celebrate the treasured and holy time I loved and served my mom. Embrace the beautiful new relationship that has grown between my dad and me. Witness the powerful and special love my kids bring into their relationship with their Papa. Observe the fruit of the deep excavation taking place in my heart. I see the confidence in who I am growing . . . and the excavation isn’t over. There is more fruit to be harvested. Although it would be super, fantastic, awesome, and wonderful if there were three easy steps to whole heartedness, there are not. I am a work in progress and my becoming is a journey.
Pause and Honor
As the doors prepare to open into my next decade, I don’t want to shut the door on my thirties and scream, “Peace out!” It would be easy to do, but it would also be unkind to my soul. The culture would condone it, and even endorse my moving on to the next bigger and better ‘thing;’ however, I want to pause. I want to remember. In acknowledging and honoring the hard, my eyes are opened more fully to see the beauty and the joy in between. Are there moments when I feel the deep ache of my mom’s physical absence here with me to usher in this next decade? Of course. But what joy I feel knowing that she is seated next to my Father. She is seeing me as my Father sees me. She is answering my questions WITH Him . . .
Do you see me? Yes they say.
Am I captivating? Yes they say.
Do you delight in me? Yes they say.
Cresting the Hill
Standing atop of the hill, ready to take my first few steps into my forties, I am filled with excitement. To extend the canopy and be present to the moments of each day. Cease the constant running meter on how I’m doing with comparison and disqualification. Choose instead to be present to my heart and grow in deeper confidence of who I am. Will you join me? Will you throw the score card away and choose to live your life in the moments of each day and measure in the decade?