I’m Turning Forty. . . Half Way to the Grave

I’m turning forty years old this Sunday. Which means if I’m lucky I’m at the half way point. Although I think eighty might be wishful thinking if I don’t start increasing my daily mobility. Sitting on my butt for prolonged increments of time is one of the shared job descriptions that unites my roles as pastor, writer, and radio host. Some days I feel like a stalagmite. However, unlike the stalagmite, I will change my location when confronted with perpetually dripping water droplets.

To note the passing of my life, my lovely wife has decided to throw me a big birthday party, or as I like to call it, my funeral rehearsal. I’m not a big party kind of guy, but it will be nice to see who might possibly show up when I kick the can and mosey into the afterlife. And yes, I will most likely mosey into the afterlife because, as I stated before, I live a very sedentary life.

As a pastor, I’ve done a fair amount of funerals and I’ve always felt somewhat frustrated by the testimony or remembrance time in those services. That’s the point when friends, family, co-workers, and the occasional “who in the world is that” get up and share fond stories about the recently departed. I’ve heard some really amazing stories and heartfelt thoughts during memorial services. However, I’ve often thought that it would have been far better for the deceased to hear these things while they were still living. Why do we have to wait for someone to leave the room before we say something nice about them.

So this weekend I get to see a bunch of the people who love me or at least tolerate my existence. I’ll hear some kinds words and some genuine heartfelt congratulations. I’ll also receive a prolonged dose of relentless teasing. I assume the rapid progression of my perpetually greying, perpetually receding hair will be duly noted. And for the most part, little or no sympathy will be given to the plight of my aging.

I’ve found that people who are older than you have little sympathy for your age milestones; they are there to remind you to quit your whining. People who are younger than you have little or no understanding of what you’re going through; they are there to remind you that you really have no idea how you will feel about yourself in the future. Consequently, I will need to find other forty year-olds in the room if I’m in need of sympathy or understanding.

Since I’ll only turn forty once in my existence, I think I will use this moment to give my friends, family, co-workers, and “who in the world is that” a little sage advice concerning what I’ve discovered in my 40 year journey.

Don’t waste your life trying to prove your worth to others. There will always be Pharisees in the room who want to steal your joy. God is your worth and your value. You don’t need to prove anything to anyone. The cross is proof of your immense value and worth.

Remove yourself from bitter fields. Your heart will grow hard and your words will grow sour if you poison your life with conversations and activities rooted in tearing people down. Malicious talk, gossip, and unforgiveness will steal away your peace and destroy your fruitfulness.

Learn to love difficult people. Maturity is not found in escaping difficult people and difficult situations. Maturity is demonstrated in learning to love when the situation feels unlovely.

Learn to love the people who’ve been entrusted to your care. Give your best time, energy, and resources to this practice.

Follow the radical leading of God’s Holy Spirit. Even if it makes you stand out and look foolish.
Say you’re sorry often, with sincere conviction! We are wrong far more than we are often willing to admit.

Avoid religious systems and institutions that turn Christianity into anything but a loving relationship with God.

Smile and start exercising. . . You’ve got much more love to give.

I’ve got more thoughts, but I’m tired of sitting here. I think I might go out for a walk.

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3 Responses to I’m Turning Forty. . . Half Way to the Grave

  1. gerald January 29, 2012 at 11:25 pm #

    3 years ago my christianity was revolutionized buy the clear understanding god’s grace and mercy. I became passionate about god’s kingdom. So a new season of growth began, there was a battle for my attention and desires, sometimes the struggles were difficult and I found a man on they radio who would remind me of my loving father and the timing always seem to be good. I know I did not always communicate my thanks to him so I want to tell him know how much I thank him for his efforts. Doug You have planted many seeds and nursed many plants back to health. You are a workman who need not be ashamed just do what you do there is no other you

    • fairlyspiritual January 29, 2012 at 11:38 pm #

      Thank you for these gracious words and this gracious gift.

    • gerald January 29, 2012 at 11:43 pm #

      Doug you have played a big part in my stability over the last few years my afternoon commute has been altered with you there. The other radio talk stations are not very edifying. so you became a part of my meditation and when just 1 turns and repents the angels sing. You see if I am a former minister. I could not do what you have done and I wish I had. I was the first in my family to be called of god and my roots did not develop deep enough and I disqualified myself because of sin. So now at 53 I begin again and it’s a new wonderful experience someday we will have lunch and I’ll tell you my story it’s quite an amazing journey thank you for your part it is to be noted in my memoirs

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