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Over what hill? An inventory

on October 8, 2015

I turned 40 this week.

While cleaning out my parents’ house in December after the passing of my mother, I came across a mug I’d given Dad when he was my age, that he still faithfully drinks out of.  Says “way, WAY, WAY OVER THE HILL”.  I felt bad for giving it to him.  Because, here I am, at the traditional “over the hill” age…and I don’t feel old.  Hill?  If there is one, I’m still climbing it.  I said when I turned 30 that life began then.  I’d like to think that 40 is beginning an era of living well.  So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  Neener.  😛

Given that this is a milestone birthday, I naturally took some time to reflect on where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going.  Thoughts:

–I can truthfully say that I am happier than I’ve been at any point in my life.  It’s a God thing.  Even on my “throw-this-stinky-fish-back” days, I am more at peace than I’ve ever been, because I draw on the strength of Jesus to get past the problems.  It is so freeing, not having to have all the answers…a hangup I had for yeeeeeeaaaaaarrrrsssss…still have to fight to not go there…

–I am still wearing a loud orange “under construction” sign.  I still, all too easily, slip into relating to Father God like I relate to my earthly father.  Knock myself out trying to please Him, getting off into works trip after works trip…always worried I’m not doing enough, not doing things right, underlying fear of criticism.  I’ve read the “faith vs. works” Scriptures plenty.  I’ve read how much God loves us and that His love is not based on what we do or don’t do.  But still having a hard time receiving that unconditional love and having revelation of it within my heart.  I know He’ll get through to me one of these days.  🙂

–Ultimate irony, given that I’m works-driven–I’m rather lousy at seeing things through to completion in my personal life.  I made a list the other day of every partially-finished project in this dwelling.  It took up an entire page.  And two of the items referenced separate page-long lists.  So, an upcoming goal is to finish all of these “stragglers” before undertaking anything new.  I’m giving myself 5 years to knock it all out.  Yeah, it’s that involved.  🙂

–I think it was Joyce Meyer who once said in one of her teachings, “there are no padded crosses”.  Well…I get what she was trying to say…but some reflection is causing me to respectfully disagree.  We as Christians usually use ‘the cross’ metaphorically when applying it to our own lives, to symbolize a great struggle that we must bear with good courage.  So it is in this metaphoric sense that I present my case.

I see my place of employment as a “padded cross” for me.

It is a daily source of struggle to act in a Christ-like manner there.  It is way too easy to get off into talebearing, gossip, anger, complaining, cursing, on and on and on.  Even in my new position, which on the whole is a lot less stress and drama to deal with, there’s definitely moments of testing.  On a broader level, I struggle with just being there, doing work that is NOT my passion, giving up time I could be spending on music, which IS my passion.  But then reality always stuffs me back in the trench–a whole lot of bad decisions have culminated in the need to pull down this paycheck to keep the household running.

Struggles, yes.  But in the grand scheme of things, minor struggles.  I don’t have to worry about getting sick from drinking the water.  I don’t have to worry about a bomb getting dropped on my head.  I’m not even dealing with any major illness, like certain co-workers are.  What on earth would I do with any real trial in my life?  I think, on some level, God knows I don’t have the strength of character to deal with any extremely difficult issue.  The Scripture does say that He does not put more on us than what we can bear, right?  I look at my “problems”…and apparently I can’t bear much.  I sheepishly grin as I write that.  I’m not feeling condemned…just a nice healthy dose of conviction.  I am soooooo thankful that God is as merciful as He is.

I mean, come on.  This job I’ve railed about for so long.  I’ve survived countless layoffs there.  I won Chicago Symphony Orchestra tickets there.  I recently won an NFL jersey in another contest there.  My co-workers are easy enough to get along with.  Benefits package is out of this world.  New boss is da bomb.  I could have it so, so, so much worse.  I have HAD it worse in the past, job-wise.

Is everything there ideal?  Far from it.  But there’s plenty of “padding” on this cross I bear.  God’s using the place to refine me, no doubt.  But He’s not allowing it to be too rough.  So I need to be thankful for that, and pass along the mercy I’m receiving.

–Last but not least, I can look back and see the growth I’ve experienced since becoming a Christian.  Too much to go into at this late hour, but I am thankful for all of it.  Here’s to continued growth in the time to come.

Off to continue climbing the hill.  🙂

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One response to “Over what hill? An inventory

  1. Stacee Hartin says:

    I’m with you on this. I don’t feel OVER the hill either. I’m still climbing it, but I do feel like the incline has increased quite a bit in the last year or so. 🙂 Welcome to the 40’s and thanks for all the positive energy and thankfulness you expressed here. This was inspiring to read.

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