Yesterday morning, I opened my eyes and thought, today, I am going to wear a headband around my head like a hippie. And I did.
As I went about my day, I realized what a momentous ordeal this was; this flowery green headband around the middle of my forehead, speaking loudly of insecurities being loosed. I have always found this style quite becoming and a tad bit enigmatic, but when I attempted the look in the past, I felt like a fraud. I would slide my headband back to the top of my head, blending in with all the other confident women who were quietly navigating the world, without the silliness of pretending to be a flower child. But today, I was thankful to be thirty-three years old, for I seemed to pass through some invisible gate with the invitation: “enter if you have finally chosen not to give a crap about what other people may think of you.”
I have been waiting for the glorious freedom that comes with the aging process my WHOLE LIFE. As a young, awkward teenager, I was gifted with a priceless friendship. I would daily ride my bike to the barn where my horse was boarded. There I was greeted by one of the most genuinely kind humans this world has ever known. He was a retired schoolteacher who was bent on helping me learn the gift of labor, as well as keeping me grounded in my youth. I am certain that the rare friendships of this man and my horse kept me out of trouble for most of my teenage years. One day, when I was about fourteen years old, while we were either scooping poop, or building a rock wall, or hauling dirt (there was always work), my friend asked what I would like to be when I grew up. I thought for a moment before responding. “Retired.”
As I have gotten older, I have learned that there is a sweet beauty in each season of life, and I am unearthing the joy that comes when I am present in each moment. However, I often think about my response as a fourteen-year old, and I am still in partial agreement with her. Though each year etches a few additional lines into my face, it also carries a wisdom that is far more alluring than a sag-free body.
My thirties have brought about a heavy dose of self-awareness that is a gift to me, as well as to anyone who attempts to know me. I actually long to step back into countless interactions in my flailing-for-security-twenties and say “ohforpete’ssake just stop talking. Walk away. Allow yourself to be comfortable with your introvertedness. Stop trying so hard. Stop forcing yourself to be someone you don’t want to be. Just be comfortable with YOU.”
I have been participating in a poetry workshop, and it has been so freeing to allow my craziness and bits of unbridled quirks onto paper. My lovely instructor told me to embrace my inner freak this week. Oh, mercy. What a welcoming invitation. Nobody needs to live in stuffy pretension. We all should participate in the magic of discovering more of who we were created to be. For me, part of that means I can dive more deeply into the lush joys of discovering who I am in Christ. 2 Timothy 2:22 says “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace.” The pursuits of righteousness (not to be confused with self-righteousness), faith, love, and peace are enough to soar me into retirement without the youthful passions that suffocated me.
My hope for you is that if you awake tomorrow with the notion to wear zebra stripes or moon boots, that you will do so. And throughout the day you might embrace a bit more of your anomalous self.