It’s my birthday today. For years, I have loathed when people ask my age. When I taught English at the university level as a young twenty-something, I felt like the question was sort of incredulous of my position or intended to somehow put me in my place, especially when I had students who were just a few years younger (and several students and colleagues who were much older).
I couldn’t wait to turn thirty. I thought that was the magic number that might bring some credibility to my years. But it didn’t seem to. It didn’t feel like it at least.
“How old are you? …Oh, you’re just a kid!”
When pressed for my age, my standard reply has become “old enough to know better; young enough to still try.” This usually gets a laugh and people move on. Not many are bold enough to ask, “No, really, how old?” …But some do.
I began to realize that those who want to condescend based on my age are actually saying more about their own insecurities, maybe, than they are about me? And frankly, if they are going to think less of me for my age and I don’t tell them it, they’ll just find something else to hold over me. If I let them.
Groan, but I still hated to share.
Then today, for some reason, it just didn’t matter any more. I didn’t feel judged or criticized or belittled. People asked and I told. It is the number of years I’ve been given here on Earth thus far, a simple fact.
I don’t think I’ve suddenly reached an age of credibility. I don’t think some magic thing happened between going to bed as a 36-year-old and waking up as a 37-year-old.
So what is it? This new found freedom?
I’ll tell you what I think: somewhere there in the last 365 days, and for many of the 365-days before it, God has been reshaping my heart, reminding me that there are bigger concerns and a bigger picture, that He is all the credibility I need at any age.
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity (1 Timothy 4:12).
You, the age you are, the place you are, the gifts (and limitations) you have are by design. God made you with a purpose, and whatever your self-perceived shortcomings are, He’s not ignorant of them.
From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live (Acts 17:26).
God wants to use you, not when you’re “old enough” (or whatever enough), but now. Today. [And that’s pretty freaking liberating if you really think about it, no?]
I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free (Psalm 119:32).
So, anyone else out there ever felt… not quite something enough? Old enough, talented enough, smart enough, thin enough, young enough, qualified enough? That ends today, m’kay? Wheeeeeeee!