By Libbo Crosswhite
13 Going on 30
Well, it happened. I had this very irrational fear about turning 30 this summer. For whatever reason, I had convinced myself that age 30 meant only one thing—old. Now, I understand that the majority of people that read this are over 30—so feel free to smack me next time you see me—but just know that on my journey to come to grips with my elderly status, I actually discovered something far greater. I am not old. You’re not old. We are experienced.
We have gained our experiences in different ways, for different amounts of time, but our experience is what helps define who we are. Think about it, the beauty of Christ coming to earth as both fully God and fully man is that Christ was able to experience what it was like to be human. He gave us the greatest gift of salvation by experiencing life on earth followed by crucifixion and resurrection. Our age is not what makes us who we are; our experience does that.
My main struggle with turning 30 stems from the fact that for better or worse, I don’t feel like I should be a day over 19. I vividly remember hearing that about someone turning 30 and thinking to myself, “Wow, I didn’t know they were that old.” Thirty means I have to stop telling people I just graduated college. It probably means I can’t eat oatmeal cream pies for a midnight snack anymore. But 30 also means that I semi-survived the uncertainties of “What now?” that typically follow major life changes in the twenties. The insecurities that the 20s bring have been replaced by the comfort of being confident in who I am continuing to become as a woman of God.
I spent a lot of time “doing” in my 20s. Graduating college, making mistakes, becoming a Young Life leader, making more mistakes, surviving my first job, getting married, having babies—almost makes me tired just thinking about it. The whole landscape of my immediate family has changed in a short decade. Half of my family members didn’t exist when I celebrated my twentieth birthday. All of that “doing,” both the good and bad, have given me a greater sense of understanding and I am starting to see what it looks like to live in this broken world as a Christian.
One of my favorite passages of scripture has been an integral part of shaping my desire to become someone who doesn’t just do things in the name of the gospel, but that experiences the gospel both genuinely and intimately. Many of us are familiar with the story of Mary and Martha, sisters who invited Jesus into their home during His time on earth. Scripture tells us in Luke that Martha was busy doing all of the preparation to have the King of the world in her home and was getting frustrated with her sister, Mary, who instead of helping, was idly sitting at the feet of Jesus. Jesus bluntly tells Martha, despite her work and effort to get things ready for Him (by no doubt shoving everything in the closets and under the beds, right?), that her sister, Mary, had actually chosen to spend her time more wisely by being with Him rather than running around preparing for his arrival. Now the type-A, go-getter, multi-tasking personality in me gives Mary a giant eye roll at “getting out” of doing any of the grunt work, but the honest truth is that I hope my 30s bring me both the confidence and the ability to be more like Mary.
It means less time comparing or trying to fit a mold of what a mom should look like and more time experiencing who God is by reading His word and spending time with Him. Slowing down—a foreign concept these days. I don’t want to just merely “do” this whole raising-kids thing, I want to experience every fleeting second of it, even the frustrating ones. Because all of those experiences enrich my time here on earth, however long that may be.
Rather than just simply doing things for Christ, although great and necessary, I hope that more time is spent experiencing Him. Looking back, if I’m honest, a lot of my insecurities begin to rear their ugly head when I find myself overwhelmed with the business of doing “the Lord’s work.” For a while, it was my pride that told me God somehow needed me more than others or that I could fix people and then upon deeper reflection, it was more that there was a part of me deep down that still felt like I had to do something to earn God’s favor or my salvation. But I didn’t get to that realization until I slowed down, which meant saying “no” to things, something that I am still not great at, and prioritizing what really mattered to me.
My prayer is that my 30s will continue to give me the confidence to live against the status quo of staying busy, keeping up with the neighbors, and merely going through the motions of raising kids to be Christian, productive, well-behaved human beings that don’t know how to spend quality time with both people or their Savior.
My sweet husband planned a fun surprise party for my last day in my 20s. As I was surrounded by my friends and family, many of whom my 20s graciously brought me, I was filled with the confident peace that the world does actually continue to get better as you age. At the risk of causing my wish to go un-granted, I won’t reveal the intricacies of my birthday wish this year, but I will tell you this, my birthday prayer is that I will continue to slow down, to be present as my tiny babies turned into kids in the blink of an eye and be thankful for my experiences in this next decade. All of which will, Lord willing, prepare me in my 40s for the greatest challenge yet—raising teenagers.
Libbo Haskins Crosswhite and her husband, Clay, live in Brandon and attend Pinelake. They have one daughter, Mary Thomas, who is 4 years old and a son, Russell, who is 2 1/2 years old. She is the high school guidance counselor at Madison-Ridgeland Academy and can be emailed at email@example.com.