As I quickly approach my 40th birthday I have been thinking a lot about what I want the next 40 years to look like. Who I want to be and what I want out of this next chapter of my life. As I look back I can't help but have some regret. You see up until the last few years I have gone through life.. without much thought, without realistic expectations, without God and without reflection.
Im finding that honoring my regrets is how I learn. I can't go back but I can embark on this next phase with more intention, more wisdom and more grace.
I regret letting those mean girls in grade school into my head. I was and am good enough. I wish I hadn't believed them. In my teens I regret doing things to fit in, regret thinking I needed a boys approval to feel confident and wish I'd have tried harder in school. Early twenties brought a husband and babies. I so wish I had just slowed down. Worried less, played more. Stressed less and relished in this precious time. I wish I had been a wife first and a mommy second. My thirties brought me teenagers. Oh how I wish I had trusted my momma heart more and thought through my decisions more thoroughly when it came to parenting decisions. I still wish I had worried less, and slowed doooown. They don't need to grow up so fast. I am still smack dab in the middle of this season and try everyday to learn from my past mistakes.
I do reflect on what I did right too. If my late thirties taught me anything it's that there is always good and we need to seek it out all day, every day and that we are all just doing the best we can with where we are and life is all about how you look at things.
When my babies were little, I threw fun Pinterest worthy parties long before Pinterest. I read to my babies, sang to them, built Legos, learned the difference between a backhoe and an excavator. I let my girlie wear "glip-glops" shoes to the store, and ordered endless meals from her restaurant.
I now have a good relationship with both my teens. I have mostly found that balance between parent and friend. They actually like spending time with me, so some where I did something right.
I have learned in the last few years that serving my family and my husband is not a chore, it is my calling. Mowing the lawn so my husband doesn't have to after a long day at work is a privilege not a hard ship. I now know that marriage takes work and I enjoy working at it. It takes time and I make the time. That the few minutes it takes are worth it. That if we are ok, everything will be ok. I was not raised to believe this. This is new territory for me and I feel more confident in my role as I honor my own thought and belief about my life.
Years ago I wasn't happy even though I was living my dream life. I let toxic noise from toxic people into my head, I was going through the motions, when things went wrong I couldn't handle it. I knew there had to be a better way.. I just had no idea how to get there.
But God knew.. When my world felt turned upside down he showed up a clear as day so together we could turn it right side up, the right way. I learned that this life really is what we make it, with God anything is possible and your past or what people have told you do not determine your future. That some people don't belong in your life no matter how important they are to you and that running from trouble isn't the answer. But most of all that I can be happy right here right now even when things are messy.
The other day I was listening to the song by Mercy Me "I Can Only Imagine." It's about what we would do when we meet Jesus face to face. I imagined I would fall to my knees and simply say "thank you." The next time I heard that song I was in the midst of a storm, a messy, can't make it through this, I'm a failure storm... because yes, I still feel those storms, I just no longer let them consume my life. When I heard it I got tears in my eyes... Because as bad as things seemed in that moment I knew I would still fall to my knees and say, " thank you." Because even in that moment of despair... God is still good, I'm still ok, I'm still enough. Because I have seen dark times before and I'm still here now. Because this is my life and I'm choosing to fully live it, to feel it and make it beautiful.. even though it's ugly right now. Because He will still lead me in the right direction if I am still enough and quiet enough in my heart to listen.
But mostly because earthly logic and solutions and ideas often don't coincide with Gods beautiful plan. Our quick to react, easy way out way of handling problems isn't His way. He knows life will stink sometimes and it will be hard, but that's also where the beauty comes. He makes beauty from ashes. I have learned that if I trust Him he will guide my heart and make beauty out of my despair.
Regrets are good and bad. I think it's good to ponder them, honor them, learn from them and fix what needs fixing. It's bad however to obsess over and beat yourself up over them. I hope to start this next chapter right where I am, with more reality, more Jesus and more joy.