Tuesday, November 8, 2011

On turning 60

However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all. ~ Ecclesiastes 11:8
“You’re really making a big deal out of turning sixty,” my husband said last week when I brought up for the umpteenth time how I wanted to celebrate my sixtieth birthday.
“Yes, I am,” I said. “Because it’s a milestone, a watershed.”
It’s a milestone because I’ve made it this far with both sanity and body intact. I’ve been married to the same man for nearly thirty-eight years, and I still thrill at the sight of him. My three children are all productive members of society. Two have given us grandchildren. We own our home free and clear. All but one of our debts is paid off. It’s a milestone because I’ve reached the beginning of my golden years and retirement. I’ve already retired from teaching. I’ll probably write, edit, mentor, and speak until God calls me home—but at a pace I set myself.
My sixtieth birthday is a watershed moment because it marks a turning point in my life. The majority of my life is behind me. I want to spend the time I have left on love—loving life, loving people, doing things I love to do, spending time with the people I love. All my life I’ve been a people-pleaser. That’s what has shaped my schedule, defined who I was, been the beat to which I marched. I’ve said “yes” to things I should have said “no” to. And found myself with more on my plate than I could handle. I’ve been a clock watcher, a do-list checker-offer, because the clock and the do list drove me.
No more. Now I will drive the clock. Or throw it out. I’ve learned to say “no.” My do list is comprised of things I enjoy doing—cooking for my husband, reading, writing, preparing speeches, having lunch with a friend, playing games with my grandchildren, crocheting little afghans for the grandkids’ kitties, playing 500 Rummy with Dean, playing Scrabble with whoever will play me, growing a vegetable garden, watching the deer and the turkeys in the yard.
I still have dreams. I almost gave them up. On my refrigerator is the number 30. That’s the number of months until my husband retires. Well, until I say he retires. He doesn’t believe it. He thinks he’s going to have to work until he drops. But something’s changed. In me. An attitude, a way of thinking. No longer do I say to him, “If you retire.” I say, “When you retire.” I don’t just hope it will happen, I look for ways to make it happen.
At 60, I matter to me, because I know that I matter to God, and I always have mattered to Him. Every moment of my life has a purpose—even, and especially, in my golden years.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made . . . All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:13?14, 16 NIV). Thank you, Lord!


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