When I was 21…
When I was twenty-one…
I had my life figured out. My twenty-first birthday was in April and I married in September. We were going to buy a house, live there for five years, then buy our “real” house where we would raise our children. I was going to be a famous photographer, maybe we would move to Nashville and wear fancy cowboy boots every day.
What was I thinking? I don’t even like country music. Well, except Randy Travis.
In a few months, I will turn fifty-one and then, in September, my husband and I will celebrate thirty years of marriage. What? How did that happen? The thing that I have discovered about marriage is that it is a four letter word. W-O-R-K. You can say that again! There have been many times that I have wished I knew then what I know now. But, not really. If God had shown me a trailer of my life, I probably would have run screaming from the room.
It has nothing to do with my love for my family. It’s because I would have caught a glimpse of the hard work, the pain, and the struggles. My mind would have said, “No way, Jose”! We never think we can endure the pain. But I would have missed the joy, hope, and love. Now this is starting to read like a country music song. Randy Travis, of course.
As I look back over thirty years, the pain and struggles have faded. The joy, love, hope, and laughter are embedded in my heart and memory. It’s weird, but I think the struggle is actually what makes it worth while. We build relational muscle and stamina over time. This is a good thing because I’m fifty now and it’s getting harder to lift heavy things. There are fewer hills worth dying on. I have sorted through the most important things and it is a small number. Less than ten maybe. And I don’t need to write them down because their preciousness makes them easy to remember.
At twenty-one, I had a lot of energy for a lot of things. At fifty-one, I have a lot of energy for a few important things. At twenty-one, I had my life figured out and it turns out I was wrong about some of it. At fifty-one, I have no idea, but it turns out I was right about the most important things.