Today I turned thirty years old – and amid the deluge of cultural traditions that suggest this is some kind of turning of the page or coming of age event, I decided I should reflect on what it means to be thirty.
Randy Newman’s song “Strange Things” must have been about turning 30 – because strange things are happening to me. I’m finding that I’d rather listen to Beethoven or Berlioz in the car than almost anything else. Whenever I rent a car I find myself holding my breath hoping they still have a Toyota Camry when I arrive. And whenever I mow the grass I wonder how many people drive by and notice how green it looks. Water is my beverage of choice. And every time Kherington hitches a ride on my back I wake up sore the next morning. I am thirty.
Of course, this isn’t about the physical limitations of being 30 – I am a big fan of the major sports and realize that 30, like the first century Jews would say, is the height of strength and power. I could easily avoid the sore muscles if I ate fewer Tombstone pizzas and ran, well, anywhere. At one point I was in really good shape – now I am content to stay in the same pant size. But I’ve said too much.
If I were being really honest, I don’t feel thirty. Or maybe I don’t feel like I thought people felt when they were thirty. My parents friends were thirty when I was a kid – and they seemed pretty mature and old and things like that. I am just a kid. I look around though and realize I’m not just a kid. This girl that took my breath away when we were kids has been holding my hand for 12 years -- she is more beautiful now than she was back then – she is the woman I come home to every evening, the mother to our incredible children. We are our own family. My 2 incredible daughters are running around calling me daddy – and I wonder if they see me the way I see my father: strong, determined, faithful. I wonder if my dad was really always all of those things or if he was more like I am than I know – I fall short so many times. Perhaps this is the lie of maturity; that we will someday get there. I don’t know when it happened, but at some point I did become a man. It’s just a different man than I thought I would be when I was younger.
I used to want to be famous; now I just want my wife and daughters to respect me more than anyone else. I used to want to change the world; now I just want to make my mom and dad proud. I used to want to write songs that people liked; now I just want to write songs that resonate with someone. I’ll be celebrating my birthday with lasagna and a cherry pie, hanging out in my living room with some close friends talking about what it means to follow Jesus. And I couldn’t imagine a better birthday.
What will thirty look like? I’ll wake up next to the love of my life, push my little girls on their swing-set, write a few songs, kick around a few world changing ideas with our friends, watch some football, drink some sweet tea, manicure my lawn, and follow Jesus through it all.
I am thirty.