In a few hours I will officially be thirty-two.
- There are 32 adult teeth in a full set, including wisdom teeth.
- The international direct dial code for calls to Belgium is 32.
- The average comic book has 32 pages.
- 32 is the atomic number of germanium.
- At sea level, water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
- 32 is the ninth Happy Number.
People seem to operate on a belief that passing a specific moment in time magically changes something. The second you turn 16 you are responsible enough to drive. At 21 you have enough maturity to drink without doing stupid stuff. The moment a degree is placed in your hand you are more intelligent and worthier of professional respect. The moment you get married you are free from a fate of destitute loneliness. The moment you turn 30 you’re not young anymore. The moment you turn 40 you’re old. I think this is hilarious. When it’s in black and white we realize it’s absurd, but we still think it. It’s just not true.
We don’t TURN something . . . we BECOME it. If it sneaks up on you, it’s your fault for not paying attention. If you spend your 20s dreading your 30s . . . well, I feel sorry for you because it turns out that I’m way happier in my 30s than I ever was in my 20s. My body still works, and I’m way smarter now.
I completed 5 years in my current job the same month that I finished my Master’s Degree. My longevity at work felt like much more of an accomplishment than the degree, but no one else really noticed. It got me a lot of attention and new business cards, but I wasn’t any better at my job the day after I got the degree than I was the day before. It’s about the process of becoming, of growing, of allowing God to continue molding and making me into what He wants. He’s the Master Sculptor: sometimes smoothing, sometimes chiseling, sometimes hacking off great chunks . . . we all know it can be an extremely painful process, but things always turn out best in the end if we just go with it.
So here’s a snapshot of the last year of my becoming . . .
Last summer I discovered Anti Icky-Poo. This stuff is expensive, but actually eradicates cat pee and cat pee odor. It has saved my couch, my bedding, and changed my life remarkably. Definitely worth mentioning.
In October I got to spend a week with my parents at their time share in Acapulco. It was my first major solo trip inside of Mexico, and I aced it. The trip was amazing. I got my first pedicure and drank a piña colada out of a coconut.
In November I surprised my whole family and showed up in Indiana for Thanksgiving. I got to spend lots of time with my little cousin-niece, JoJo. Her mom, Ellen, is the closest thing I have to a sister, and we got up early and went shopping on Black Friday. It was a special time, especially since they live in Kenya and I never know when I’ll get to see them again.
In January I started going to my new church, New Harvest Christian Fellowship. That triggered a whole cycle of growth that’s lasted all year and hopefully will never end. I developed something I wasn’t sure I’d ever accomplish . . . a life outside of work. I made friends . . . numerous friends, in fact.
In January I also vowed to take care of some financial stuff I’ve been putting off for years. I have life insurance now, and started a small retirement fund. I’ve become an avid coupon clipper and save an average of at least $50 in coupons and sales during a typical grocery shopping trip.
In March I was unexpectedly slammed with a financial situation that left me more broke than I’ve been in years. It took 3 months to resolve, and God was beyond faithful. Tithing has never been scarier, but somehow each of those 6 paychecks managed to stretch just long enough (down to pennies enough). God’s provision was miraculous; I didn’t go hungry, didn’t get too far behind in other bills, and never went into overdraft even though there were a few times I definitely should have . . . debit transactions just took a full 36 business hours to clear for some strange reason. No biggie for God.
In April I started a blog. I can’t believe it’s only been 3 months. It’s good for me to have a place to process stuff, even though lately I’ve been so busy everything is sitting raw inside my brain. It’s validating to know that people read it, and encouraging to read your comments. It’s fun and slightly self-indulgent (to be honest) to know that my words matter to someone enough that they want an email when I write more. So thanks to my handful of faithful readers. When I’m a rich and famous author, know that you were the first. (juuuust kidding!)
June . . . this has been a big month. I bought a $30 hand mixer. It’s not the $50 hand mixer, but it’s not the $20 hand mixer, either. It is replacing the $6 hand mixer I’ve been using for the last decade, on high speed because the others don’t work anymore. My $30 hand mixer is fantastic. Turns out that low speed on this mixer is more powerful than high speed on the other one. It has attachments that beat, knead, stir, and whip. It runs on 2 point something amps, and has a retractable power cord. Not to mention the ergonomic soft handle.
I celebrated the acquisition of my new grown-up kitchen gear by baking myself a German Chocolate birthday cake, during which I discovered two things: 1) my $30 hand mixer is absolutely phenomenal and also weighs about 5 pounds; consequently, my right shoulder muscles are still sore more than a day later. 2) Cakes baked from scratch are better from step one. Seriously, I was tasting from the moment I had 2 sticks of butter and 2½ cups of white sugar “beaten until light and fluffy.” By the time it was all done . . . good grief! It was like chocolate milk, only smoother. I can’t wait to taste my cake in the morning! You heard me. Breakfast.
Last week I also took a step that I should have taken years ago: I stuck up for myself. There’s not really more I can say about it in a public forum. It took courage, and things are different now. I’ve learned (or re-learned) two things: 1) It’s worth it. 2) There’s power in numbers. It took two of us to feed off our meager courage until it grew into something useful. Things are starting to change now that probably would have changed years ago if I had been braver from the beginning. I’m sorry for that, but looking forward to a much less stressful life.
My favorite thing that has happened in the last year was very gradual. It snuck up on me, continues to happen, and amazes me every time I stop to think about it. Years ago, I had a friend. A best friend. He probably knew me better than I knew myself at the time. We talked about everything, challenged each other, grew and learned together. He’s the sort of guy I’m never gonna marry but raises the bar so high that I might not marry anyone else, either. Then, about 6 years ago, we stopped being friends. The how and why don’t matter. We were stupid, and it wasn’t pretty. After a couple years of silence we managed to regain neutrality. A couple years ago we reconnected and slowly but surely have begun to rebuild a friendship. We’re older and wiser now, have better boundaries, and are better communicators. But most of all, this is a testament to God’s healing power in every area of our lives. Through this overwhelming healing and the return of my friend God is teaching me that His mercy knows no bounds and that His grace is great enough to cover and correct anything, no matter how royally I screw it up.
So the process of becoming thirty-two started the day I was born. The last 12 months have been an adventure full of change. Tomorrow will be a day like any other except that I will eat cake for breakfast, open some cards and a present from my cousin, and (thanks to Facebook) people will wish me happy birthday and make some jokes about how old I am now. Mostly, though, I enjoy looking back at the process of becoming. I take great comfort in knowing that I am still becoming. I’m in the process of becoming thirty-three, fifty, ninety-seven. The process starts now, just like eternal life starts the moment you give your life to Jesus. I’m in the process of becoming a better therapist, a wife and mother (hopefully someday), a Christian, and friend.
God ain’t done with me yet!