Fifty, half a hunert, half a century, silver jubilee, o’ folk, like fine wine, quinquagenarian, quintastic!, demi-centenarian. These are words that now describe me. My favorite happens to be quintastic! And I quite like vintage: of high quality and lasting value. (Cambridge Dictionary)
Several years ago, when I first moved to the other side of the planet, a friend gave me a stack of birthday cards. Apparently, she wasn’t sure she’d ever see me again. Those cards have made it through multiple international and domestic moves. As I opened my 50thbirthday card, I began to wonder what I would be like, who I would become, when I turned 60, 75, 90. (Yes, she gave me one for my 90th, older than dirt, birthday. I wonder how many oceans that card will cross in its lifetime.)
When I turned fifty, I thought back to my younger self. All of those days brought me to my today. I can’t dwell there, but they are important. As I think about my future birthdays, I want to focus on the hope that my tomorrows will bring.
I thought I’d take a moment to write to the older me and ask her a few questions.
Dear Older Me,
As I think of who you are and all you’ve experienced, I wonder what you will want to tell me now.
Did I make it? I suppose I did since you’re reading this. I’m amazed that I’ve made it through all I have so far but I wonder (and worry) about what’s to come. I know there are more trials and challenges ahead that I couldn’t possibly plan for. I certainly didn’t plan for the ones that have already come my way. I’m curious if I survived cancer. How many more moves did I pack for? What losses have I survived? Hold up, I may not want the answer to that one. I should probably deal with them as they come.
Am I kind? I remember well that one day I realized I was consumed by anger and bitterness. I promised myself then that I wouldn’t live that way. I didn’t want to be that person. Did I follow through?
Do I love well? Namely, my family but also others. Do I love those who are like me and those who are different from me? Am I better at being vulnerable? I hope I am, for I know the risk is worth it.
Am I still traveling the globe? The world has opened up making it easy to see so much of God’s amazing handiwork. But here lately, it seems to be getting smaller. Less safe. I hope I’m still healthy enough to travel and that fear doesn’t take over my sense of adventure. I hope I’ve made it back to Kenya and other places where pieces of my heart remain, but I also hope I experience new places. .I hope I’ve spent time with friends in Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Georgia – just to name a few. A scattered heart seems to be an antidote for a shattered heart.
How many grandchildren do I have? Twenty? Thirty? Mic check… Hello, kids, is this thing on???
Did I publish a book? Two? Maybe three? How many typos did I miss? Are my books pretty? I want the outside to be as beautiful as I hope the words on the inside will be.
Am I still holding my husband’s hand? I don’t know how much older you are when you read this but I know that it’s inevitable that one of us will be with Jesus before the other. It’s also a real possibility that sin could separate our union. That moment Nicholas Sparks created in The Notebook is beautiful but it probably won’t be the reality for most of us. I hope my wrinkly skinned fingers with their arthritic and swollen joints are intertwined with my husband’s worn yet strong hands from years of providing, serving and healing. All the richer if we’re swinging on our porch reliving tales of our many adventures, good and bad, broken and redeemed, and reminiscing about our favorite meals from around the globe.
Dear older me, I hope that when I’m you, you’ll tell me that all is well. That love has won. That feelings have been felt. That fears have been conquered and goals achieved. I hope you will tell me that my faith is strong and that my friendships are deep because I put in the effort to make that happen. I hope you tell me that my family is all well and we still hold each other close and laugh together – a lot. I hope you will tell me that the dreams that died made way for better ones. But I also hope you’ll tell me no matter how old I am, there’s more life to be lived. Remind me that all of my yet to be lived yesterdays brought me to my today and that today is good.
As I think of my future, there is a common thread of hope. Dear older me, I pray you will tell me that it was indeed all worth it. I have an inkling that you will.
“He is before all things, in Him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17
When you think about your future, who do you want to be? What would you ask your older self if given the opportunity?
Andrea Stunz has been a Christ-follower from the age of seven. She is the loyal wife to one, loving mom to three amazing adult children, grateful mother-in-law and ridiculously proud grandmother. A well-traveled Texan, having lived in Brazil, Asia, and the UK, Andrea finds joy in her family, grace in her friends, beauty in a story, purpose in the sunrise, wonder in her travels, and hope in Colossians 1:17. Andrea longs to encourage others by sharing stories because “a story worth living is a story worth sharing”. Find more from her at AndreaStunz.com.