Fifty, half a hunert, half a century, silver jubilee, o’ folk, like fine wine, quinquagenarian, quintastic!, demi-centenarian. These are words that now describe my 50-year-old self. My favorite happens to be quintastic! And I quite like vintage: of high quality and lasting value. (Cambridge Dictionary)
Several years ago, when I first moved to practically the other side of the universe, a friend gave me a stack of birthday cards. I guess she wasn’t sure she’d ever see me again. Those cards have made it through two more international moves and I’m about to open the one for my 50th birthday. When she gave me this stack I began to wonder what I would be like when I turned 50, 75, 90. Yes, she gave me one for my 90th (older than dirt) birthday. I wonder how many oceans that one will cross.
As I turn fifty, I think back to my younger self because it’s all of those days that brought me to my today. But I mostly want to focus on the hope of my tomorrows.
I thought I’d take a moment to write to the older me and ask her a few questions. I’m currently hearing Ricky Ricardo saying, “Andrea, ju have some splainin’ to do!”
What would you want to ask your older you?
Dear Older Me,
I have questions for you. I often think back to the younger me and wish I could have told her a few things that I now know. I wonder if I would have listened to myself. That’s a good question. As I think of you, the older me, I wonder what you will want to tell me now.
Here are a few questions I have for you:
Did I make it? I suppose I did if you’re reading this. I’m amazed that I’ve made it through all I have so far but I wonder what’s to come. I know there are more trials and challenges ahead that I couldn’t possibly plan for. I certainly didn’t plan for the ones that have already come my way. I’m curious if I journeyed through cancer. How many more moves did I pack for? What losses have I survived? Hold up, I don’t want the answer to that one. I’ll deal with them as they comes.
Am I kind? Oh, I sure hope so. I remember that day when I noticed everything in me was filled with anger and bitterness. I promised myself from that point that I wouldn’t live that way. I didn’t want to be that person. Did I follow through?
Do I love well? Namely, my husband and kids. But others as well. Those who are like me and those who are different from me. It’s often hard for me to risk loving fully. I hope I have gotten better at this for I know the risk is worth it.
Am I still traveling the globe? The world has opened up over the last couple of decades making it so easy to see so much of God’s amazing creations. But here lately, it seems to be getting smaller. Less safe. More turmoil and closing borders. I hope I’m still healthy and able enough to travel and that fear doesn’t take over my sense of adventure. I hope I made it back to Kenya, New Zealand and Nepal but I also hope I’ve seen the Grand Canyon and San Francisco and New York. I hope I’ve spent time with friends enjoying a cuppa in Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Georgia just to name a few.
How many grandchildren do I have? Twenty or thirty would be fine with me. At this point I have one and he’s the best but more would be better. Mic check… Hello, kids, is this thing on???
Did I publish a book? Two? Maybe three? Gosh, I sure hope so! How many typos did I miss. I’m super concerned about that. Are my books pretty? I hope that you can read a book by its cover in my case. I want the outside to be as beautiful as I hope the words inside will be.
Am I still holding my husband’s hand? I don’t know how much older you are when you read this but I know that it’s inevitable that one of us will be with Jesus before the other. That moment that Nicholas Sparks created in The Notebook is beautiful but it probably won’t be the reality for most of us. No matter how old you are, I hope my wrinkly skinned fingers with their probably arthritic and swollen joints are intertwined with my husband’s worn yet strong hands from years of providing and serving. All the richer if we’re swinging on our porch at Longstory Lodge reliving tales of our many adventures and our favorite meals from around the globe while sipping a nice glass of red.
Dear older me,
I hope that when I’m you, you’ll tell me that all is well. That love has won. That fears have been conquered and goals have been achieved. I hope you will tell me that my friendships are deeper and more meaningful because I helped them get that way. I hope you tell me that my family is all well and we still laugh together – a lot. I hope you will tell me that the dreams that had to die only made way for better ones. But I also hope you’ll tell me that no matter how old I am, there’s more life to be lived. Please remind me that all of my yet to be lived yesterdays brought me to my today. The good and the bad. The joy and the grief. The comfort and the pain.
I know there are more questions I’d like to ask you if I thought about it longer. But I suppose I’ll just have to wait for those answers. As I think about my future, I sense an air of great hope. Older me, when I get to you, I pray you will tell me that it was indeed all worth it. I have an inkling that you will.
“He is before all things, in Him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17