ADAM 5.0 – Reflections on Four Decades of…Me.
Now, on the one hand I woke up this morning feeling just like I did yesterday and the days before – even better after coffee and an overly large chocolate birthday croissant, courtesy of my wife. On the other hand, I have this thing inside of me that says today is kind of big deal. Not because it’s my birthday (the thrill is gone), but because another decade of my life has passed and that seems to call for some reflection. I’m starting my fifth decade, for goodness sake!
So, for anyone that’s interested…five things I’ve learned (I think) in my first 40 years.
1.0 – Substance matters.
Like most everyone, there was a time when young, hip, and cool were major voices in my life. Some of this was due to my vocation as minister to teens; some to being too quick to listen to echoes of youth-driven advertising; some just to old-fashioned vanity. Time is adept at humbling folks though, and the days of frosted, spiked hair are history – both because I realized it looked stupid, and because I can’t grow enough hair to make a “style” anymore. The upside is that I’ve learned that “cool” and “in” are the ultimate in chasing after the wind. I haven’t gone to full sackcloth just yet and I hope to never be the guy that looks like he gave up trying a few decades ago, but 40 year-old me realizes that I need to be and to offer more. I always knew this in some hypothetical way, but I know it deeply as I enter the fifth decade of my life. I want to abide in God in real and incredibly intimate ways. I want to share whatever I have to offer flowing out of that abiding. That’s pretty much it. What happens and what people think about it are of little concern to me now, as long as it feels like real sharing something real.
2.0 – Young People Are Awesome.
This may seem to contradict what I just said, but wait for it. You see, I used to think young people were important because I thought I was one of them! As I can no longer make that claim with any integrity, I’m forced to look at young people from the position of “other”. And, from this side of the fence I like them even better! I see the great wisdom of God in continually using younger generations to push the rest of us out of our familiar patterns and ingrained traditions. I think the Millennial generation and its successors are especially endowed by God with gifts the church needs in order to adapt itself (not the gospel, just the organization) to the post-modern, post-Christian world we’re in. Yes, they absolutely need shepherding and tempering. It’s my honor that I’m in a position to provide at least a little of that.
And don’t even get me started on babies!!
3.0 – Old People Are Awesome.
While my ever-thinning hair and unexplained body aches betray that I am certainly no longer young, I am not quite ready to consider myself old either. Perhaps this is narcissism masquerading as pragmatism, but how could I really tell if that were the case anyway, right? So, I proceed. One of the unfortunate characteristics of the western world is our general disregard for older folk. As I move further into life, I increasingly see the foolishness in this. I have come to appreciate the value of wisdom. I see it in elders in the church, advisers in my academic career, mentors, and in folks I run into along the way. Wisdom is perhaps the greatest asset in human experience (Yes, I’ve read Proverbs and realize this should have been obvious long ago…maybe I’m slow on the uptake). In previous decades, I was too hesitant to listen to wisdom and probably too arrogant to heed it. I’m thankful to have outgrown that.
4.0 – Dancing Is Important.
I’m an introvert. I’m utterly devoid of rhythm. White people watch me dance and wonder how I could be so…white. Still, I dance! I’m more convinced than ever that God’s people need a little whimsy in their lives. I think there’s something real to the idea of joy…both as God’s gift to his people, and for the benefit of our witness to the world. So, you’ll just have to look the other way when I need to break out a lil bit of whip and a smidgen of nae nae…it must be done.
5.0 – I Have a Theme Song.
I know, it’s cheesy and cliché. What can I say, I’m in a very nostalgic/reflective/mush-brain place right now. I’ve gravitated toward Colton Dixon’s song #throughallofit in the past few months. While no one wants to hear about all the ups, downs, failures, successes, and confusions my first 40 years, they are blasting through my own brain like an unstoppable Netflix binge. The one constant is that God has walked beside me. And, in my best times, I’ve let him lead me toward the best possible outcomes (even when those hurt). Here’s a lyric video if you’re not familiar with the song. Thanks, @coltondixon !
I know I said 5, but this must be said..call it a 5.0.1.
I’m in Love and I Don’t Care Who Knows It: Not to get too mushy, but it’s a flingin’-flangin’ blessing to have spent two of my four decades with my favorite woman and to know that whatever decades are yet to come, we’re “progressing” together.