The Slow Admission — We’re Getting Older

Tiffany and Ryan help Margaret celebrate her birthday.
Tiffany and Ryan help Margaret celebrate her birthday.

My wife and I were born in 1955 at the peak of the Baby Boom generation. It was the year Rock and Roll went viral, Elvis Presley was king, Disneyland opened, they cured polio, and Rosa Parks took that inimitable seat in the front of the bus. It was a great year to be born and has been a great ride.

We were part of that forever young generation. For a while we said you should never trust anyone over 30. But that posture becomes a little awkward when you turn 30. So, as all of us aged, we started redefining what it meant to be young. 30 became the new 20, 40 became the new 30. We even tried to declare 50 as the new 30, but no one bought it. We fought to maintain the illusion that we were still young and hip and immortal. Even now as conversations about retirement are frequent among our friends, we are trying to recast the image of what that will mean.

So as Margaret and I turn sixty this year, although it sounds wrong and feels quite surreal, I find myself ready to take small steps in telling myself the truth. Although, I still feel like I am hip thirty-something, I am starting to embrace the little pieces of reality that interrupt my pleasant illusions.

I am ready to admit:

  • The idea of staying up all night sounds like torture. Shoot, staying up past midnight doesn’t sound fun. Why would we even want to try?
  • Going out for late-night pizza with friends at 11pm sounds like a dumb idea, unless I want a night of acid-reflux and bad sleep.
  • Going to bed before 10 sounds like a great idea most days.
  • Even basic exercise requires warming up. I can’t just pick up and do something strenuous without preparation unless I want to pay for it for a week.
  • I love being with my grandson, but the idea of parenting a young child is exhausting.
  • Sometimes I forget where I put things I was using just 3 minutes ago.
  • I hate it when someone in the store calls me “sir.”
  • My kids are the age I would like to think that I am. Which clearly means, I am not.

So, as surreal as it is to be turning sixty, it’s time to embrace reality for all that it holds. For all those of my generation who have spent most of the past three decades pretending we weren’t getting older, it’s time to own it. 60 is the new sixty.

But, sixty is not a bad thing. This is the decade of legacy. A decade for giving away the important lessons and insights to the amazing leaders who follow behind us. It is a decade that is bright and full of promise. Barring an unforeseen interruption, we have hopes and dreams and plans and adventures that stretch out way down the road for us. And, maybe, we have just enough wisdom to enjoy each day and all that it brings as it happens.

Book of the Year

Of all the books I read last year, Just Courage stands out as book of the year for me. It is inspiring, provocative, prophetic and although only 132 pages, it has gotten under my skin like no book I have read in a long time.  Here is a sample glimpse into Gary’s point:

“At the end of the day we thought our Christian life would be more than this—-somehow larger, more significant, more vivid, more glorious. But it’s not. Driving to church on Sunday feels a bit like Ground Hog Day, the movie where Bill Murray’s character is forced to pathetically relive exactly the same day over and over again.”
(p. 25-26)

“The idea that there is nothing beyond our personal spiritual development isn’t meant to be satisfying—-for our rescue is not the ultimate destination; it is the indispensible means by which God works out his plan to rescue the world.”  (p. 29)

Just Courage makes a powerful case for God’s call to his people to engage in the work of justice. And, not just for the redemptive impact on those struggling with injustice, but for how responding to this call is liberating for Christians as well.  “God specifically uses the work of justice as the pathway for liberating us from the Christian cul-de-sac of triviality and small fears.” (p. 39)

Haugen’s book fits on a larger page that God has been writing in my life. It is a call to all of us who follow Christ to move outside the walls of ecclesiastical safety and into the lives of people touched by the brokenness of our world. It is a call to follow Jesus in the world he was motivated to reach. It is an invitation to participate in the redemptive work that God is all about.

I could go on, but what I would love is for you to get a copy, read it, and drop me a note with your thoughts. Let’s have a dialog.  {Click the image of the book and go straight to Amazon to order it.}
[P.S. I’ll post thoughts on the two runner-up books in next week.]