On Turning 30

Today marks the end of an era.  The 20’s are officially over.  It was a good decade.  I got married (actually, that happened at 19, but we’ll throw it in there anyhow), graduated from college, got a Masters degree, had a few kids, took a job, moved around the country a few times, and took a chance on something I believed in (Bloom).  I’m very appreciative of all that God has done over the past 10 years.

When I was a kid, people who were 30 were officially and without dispute “grown-ups”, and grownups were people who had it all together.  At 30, I can’t at all say that I “have it all together”, or even that I feel all that “grown up”… I actually feel like I’m just getting started.  I hope that every time I hit a new decade-marker I feel that I’m just getting started.  That the future is bright and full of possibility, and my best days are still ahead.  God grant it.  Light and hope in all things.

Several years ago I found myself sitting at a table with a guy who was in his mid-30s.  As we started discussing age, I mentioned that the 30s seemed to me to be something of a wilderness that many people go through on their way to their better years – their 40s and 50s – where they finally “arrive” in some sense or another.  He quickly brushed that away: “No way bro.  The 30s are awesome.  My kids are growing older, I’m finally starting to hit my stride in my career, and people don’t automatically dismiss me anymore as a dumb kid.  I’m loving it.  You’ve got a lot to look forward to.”

Indeed.  My prayer this morning as I head into this new decade was for five very specific things which, if they happen, will have made the 30s “awesome”:

1) That the ballast of my life would be deeper and heavier.  More and better prayer, more and better reflection, more and better solitude and sabbath, more and better routines of work, family, and play, to keep my life anchored in God.  That I would see “ballast keeping” as the main work of my life which, if I take care of it, will set the stage for everything else.

2) That the gap would continue to close between my secret life with Jesus and my leadership, in all its forms.  So often, especially in church work, our prayer lives and our public leadership are seen as separate things.  I would like to think that they don’t need to be, and that the best kind of leadership is that which comes straight from the heart of a life lived well in the company of Jesus and hence does not bear the marks either of strain or duplicity.  Integrity is the old word for it… a fundamental unity between the inner and outer life.

3) That more than ever I would be absolutely clear on what I’m about (and what I’m not) and that as such I would be outrageously okay with being misunderstood.  That I would know my principles and act out them.  In retrospect, if could sit down with myself at 20 and give the 20 year-old Andrew any advice it would be, “Follow what you know in your gut is right, bro, and don’t live under any illusion that everyone is going to ‘get’ what you’re doing… just do it, and let the fruit speak for itself.”  Would to God that more than ever this decade would be characterized by THAT.

4) That I would banish excessive self-seriousness from my life, and instead live my life joyfully, wisely, spontaneously, and sensibly, remembering that “in his heart a man plans his course but the Lord determines where he steps”, which means I think that much of what my life becomes is in the hands of Another anyway and so it is foolish to fret about it, and in reality the Andrew Arndt story is not nearly the most important story that’s happening on planet Earth anyway, which again means that it is foolish to fret about it.  It’s strangely liberating to realize that.  The pressure’s off.  There is space to live.

5) That as #s1-4 are realized, I would be fruitful.  But that it would be the right kind of fruitfulness.  A fruitfulness born out of rootedness, and not striving.  A fruitfulness born out of a sense of anchoredness in God.  Grant it Lord.

So that’s it.  Those are my pleas for my 30s.  Looking forward to all that is to come…

Oh, and thanks for all the birthday wishes everyone : )

Andrew

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