Friday, December 7, 2012

Thoughts on Thirty, Part 3

As you undoubtedly know by now, I recently turned 30 and have been blogging about some thoughts I've had regarding this landmark. My first post was a reflection on the personal changes I've experienced over the past decade, while the second post was an exploration of the nature and function of my 20s and an anticipation of what is to come in my 30s. In the final part of this series, I will further examine my closing statement from the previous post: that I am hoping to continue living a fun, adventurous life as I commit to planting semi-permanent roots with my family, friends, church, neighborhood, and city over the next 10 years.

I never want to be boring.

This was my greatest fear in becoming a parent. Call me selfish for caring about myself, but I don't care. I wasn't overly worried about being a good dad. I wasn't terribly concerned about continuing to be a good husband. Perhaps I'm a bit too self-assured, but I was confident in my parenting and husbanding abilities. But what really freaked me out was the idea that settling down, having a child, working a full-time job again, and buying a house would turn me into a monotonous drone of a human. While all these things are inherently wonderful and mean the world to me, I was worried about 'gaining the world but losing my soul.' Mandy and I had lived an exciting life throughout our twenties and I didn't want to lose that sense of thrill and passion. We had lived well, an abundant life, and I did not want to sacrifice this in the process of raising a child.

Can I find a way to BOTH plant roots AND be adventurous and always-changing?

I'm not totally sure I can answer this question yet. I know the answer is yes, but I'm not sure what the adventure will look like in this new phase of our lives. Ask me in a decade and I should have a better idea. But for now, I know for sure that I am blessed to have had the experiences I've had and I'm so grateful to have had wonderful people alongside of me on the journey. I have the most amazing friends in Montana, South Dakota, and Washington, I have an incredibly supportive family, and most of all, I am married to my best friend and have an unimaginably special daughter. Life is good - and I don't think that is changing anytime soon.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thoughts on Thirty, Part 2

If you happen to number in my miniscule readership, you know that I both turned 30 years old this past week and am in the midst of a 3-part blog series about this milestone in my life. In the first installment I discussed the idea that the 20-year-old version of myself would probably not recognize the 30-year-old version of myself...and that I'm both okay with that and am hopeful that I continue to change and grow so significantly that the 30-year-old version of myself would not recognize the 40-year-old version.

The second thought I have been pondering for the past week is about the role and nature of the past decade (my 20s) and the future decade (my 30s). As I've reflected, it seems that my 20s were a time of finding my own individual identity. I was finding myself. I was figuring out who I am. I was discovering who is important to me, what I am passionate about, and how I will spend the remainder of my life. I went to school, I found my vocational calling, I fell in love, I went to more school, I traveled a lot, I tried new things, I lived in some cool places. In short, my 20s were an experiment in living.

So if this past decade was an era of exploring my individual identity, it seems like the next decade will be one of exploring my communal identity. As I have come to some conclusions about who I am with myself, I now feel ready to finally search for who I am with others. Who am I with my family (when I see them much more often)? Who am I in a church (when we aren't planning to leave anytime soon)? Who am I in a neighborhood (when we finally own a home and aren't moving each year)? Who am I (especially with others) over the long-haul? Who will I be year-in-and-year-out? The process of moving back to Montana and beginning to finally put down roots is affording me the chance to dive into relationship in a way that I never have before. And I couldn't be more excited.

The experimental decade I have recently departed was full of life and love and adventure, but was not a sustainable lifestyle. The question is will I be able to continue an adventurous life as I transition into this new, sustainable, consistent, and communal way of living? I think the answer to that question is 'yes,' and I'm excited to figure out how.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Thoughts on Thirty, Part 1

Just two days ago I found my way across the invisible threshold from my 20's to my 30's. In anticipating my 30th birthday, I assumed I would feel no different upon reaching this milestone, that this birthday would feel insignificant and common, no more important than any other previous birthday. But I was wrong.

Turning 30 naturally, yet unexpectedly, led me to some deep soul-searching and thoughtful reflection. I found myself pondering the previous decade, reflecting on where life's journey has brought me, and wondering about what the next 10 years have in store. Through this process of reflection, three significant thoughts came to mind, which I will divulge in a 3-part blog series over the next week (hopefully).

The first thing I have been thinking about recently is that I seriously doubt that the 20-year-old version of myself would recognize the 30-year-old version of myself. I've changed. I've grown. I've been transformed. I've lived a world of experiences that I could never have dreamed of 10 years ago. I had no idea I would be living in a big city, generally, or Seattle, specifically. I had no idea I would graduate from one of the more creative and progressive seminaries in the country. I had no idea I would work in so many various denominations, coming to love, appreciate, and need a more ecumenical approach to ministry. I had no idea I would leave Montana, spend time in the Midwest (Sioux Falls, SD), and venture out to the West Coast (Seattle, WA), only to ultimately arrive back at the place I started - an American Baptist Church in Montana. Life is weird and unexpected, but Mandy and I have just tried to keep our eyes peeled for what's next, listen to the Spirit's prompting, and say yes to new adventures.

I'm really proud of the person that I have become in the last 10 years. I love better than I used to. I work for peace in the midst of a violent world. I am a better listener and more caring than I ever was before. I've been transformed into someone who more closely patterns my life after the life of Jesus. But please don't hear me say that I finally have life and the world and faith figured out. I surely don't. I hope that the 30-year-old version of myself wouldn't recognize the 40-year-old version of myself. I hope that I continue to be open to change and transformation. I hope that God continues to poke and prod at my theology and ideology and that I am not too stubborn to listen and be molded and shaped. I hope that at 40 I will still be a work in progress. And I hope that I will be proud of who I have become over the past decade.