I just got off the phone with my sister. I love talking with her because she’s known me since I was 3 and that pretty much gets rid of any pretense, so we dig right in to the real stuff of life and love. This time we laughed together at how high strung life was for each of us in our 20’s when were living “in the fast lane” – getting degrees, meeting the men we would later marry, working our tails off in our jobs, stressing out over politics. When I was a 20-something, I felt driven to do more, be more, and do it all perfectly. I re-created the AVID program at the school where I taught, wrote and won grants for thousands of dollars for my classroom, did my first few public speaking engagements with women’s groups, and adopted 2 little girls. But it was never enough. I felt alone and stressed out most of the time, and so insecure about how others viewed me.
Now, I wake up, take my three kids to their activities, talk to a friend or two on the phone, cook meals, clean our house, occasionally write for this site or other publications, and periodically perform some task for our small business. No glamour, no public recognition. It’s a life completely out of the fast lane and I feel better about myself than I did during those 10 years of 20-something life. It got even slower recently when I was put on bedrest during my first trimester of this pregnancy. I had to let everyone else do all the stuff I do around home and with the kids. No cooking, lifting children, driving people around, grocery shopping… It was stressful and scary and frustrating to have to live like that for the better part of a month! But I couldn’t help but think how utterly unbearable it would have been to be in that place in my 20’s! I would have been crawling out of my own skin (after resenting and feeling insecure about it first!) and I am certain it would have sparked an identity crisis. But not this time. By the grace of God, I could still be me, and be loved and valuable, and see life as okay even though I wasn’t able to DO much of anything.
Maybe the key is the Mary and Martha story in the New Testament. Maybe the two women are the two sides of what we all need to be to live as God desires. For me, I was Martha more during my 20’s and have grown to enjoy being more like Mary in my 30’s. I’ve known others who were more like Mary earlier in life who developed facets of themselves that meet practical ministry needs like Martha and are glad they did.
What has your experience been as you’ve grown over the past 10 years? Whether you’re in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s or beyond, I’d love to hear from you about this!