A Cause to Pause and Reflect

Blue_candles_on_birthday_cakeThree decades.

I’ve been driving for almost half my life.

photo-4I’ve lived through two spaceflight accidents, been to three funerals, lived in four states, witnessed five presidents, owned six dogs, and I’ve seen the clocks change 60 times.

I’ll probably never again be the best man at a wedding as all of my friends are married with kids.

“Happy Birthday” has been sung to me thirty times, and thirty times I’ve woken up to the Christmas lights glowing bright in the living room on a cold winter morning.

To many this won’t seem like that big of a deal. I still look at people and think, I’ll photo-11never be that old, the way a ten-year-old might look at me and likewise muse.

Twenty-eight and twenty-nine weren’t as earth-rattling. But when your roaring twenties come to a definite close and a new decade unfolds, it gives you reason to stop and think.

If I were a clock, the long hand would be half-way through the face.

Immortality is a tough pill to swallow, isn’t it?

photo-9Leading up to my personal new year yesterday with my best friend and wife, I’ve had a lot to reflect on. Regrets have caused me to cry in the last week. Achievements came up short, as nearly all of them could be approved upon.

By this point I was hoping to have had a child, to be more mature, wise, and spiritual, and, let’s be honest, to be a best-selling author.

William Wilberforce wept over his missed opportunities in his early twenties, and spent the rest of his life vigorously making up for his youthful carelessness.

Charles Dickens was a rising star by the time he was twenty-eight. photo-8

Jesus began His official ministry at my age, and He was murdered three years later.

But when it all comes down to it, yesterday’s milestone meant very little. It defined nothing, except that I am very fortunate to be married to the love of my life, and that I still unashamedly ask for animated movies (Monsters University) and children’s books (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) for presents. (Walt Disney said, “Adults are only kids grown up, anyway.”)

Yesterday’s birthday didn’t reveal whether I would die at sixty or even make it to the next Veteran’s Day weekend.

My birthday, like all twenty-nine before it, promised nothing.

photo-7But like none other before it, it did cause me to pause, and reflect. And upon reflection, I’ve recalled things that I’ve lost, regrets I carry like weights, and unpeeled old wounds I thought were healed.

But I was also reminded of the path that continues to lay before me. Sarabeth and I are just one insignificant document away from being approved to foster to adopt, I have two books written and one published, and Jesus still sits at the right hand of God beckoning me, daily, to come to Him and receive His counsel, His blessings, His discipline, and the rest of the days He freely offers to me as the greatest gift short of salvation I could ever receive.

May I live them well.

And when the spring of my life has frozen over with the icy winters of old age, and I ask  photo-10Sarabeth to tell me I’ve lived a good life, like the elderly Private Ryan does at Captain Miller’s tombstone, may she affirm that I’ve been a good man.

And in my first breath of Eternal fragrance wafting through the great halls of our Lord’s Kingdom, whenever that may be, may I hear the words echo against the golden pillars: “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You may enter fully into my Presence…”

Published by Andrew Toy

Writer when I'm not being a husband or dad. So mostly just a husband and dad.

57 thoughts on “A Cause to Pause and Reflect

  1. Well written! My sister is turning thirty next week, so it was very relevant to me. I could kick myself for not writing something similar, as I turned the big 4-0 this year. I’ve got an idea up my sleeve, though which I won’t share here as I don’t want any writers to steal it! God bless you and Sarabeth and your quest for a child. We waited 15 years for our son, and have had to endure two miscarriages – one was of twins. And our son still asks us (weekly) about when he’s getting a sibling (sigh!) Keep on being faithful in your pursuits of godliness! All good things will come in His time!

  2. Wow, this was great! You can sure “take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’!” Welcome to the 30’s club! You’re here for a reason and God has placed right here and right now for a purpose driven life! WriteOn kind sir! -Jules

  3. What a lovely post! I enjoyed your reflection of 30 years very much. Happy Belated Birthday, and don’t worry your 30s will be even better. Something shifts in these years and they feel more grounded. And there is plenty of time to publish!

  4. Wonderful, thought provoking, and emotional post! I wish I had done as much reflecting at 30 as I am doing now in my 50s! Life is good, and regret is a waste of time, learn from it, and let it go! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Wow, you really did do an assessment. I thought 30 was tough until I hit 40, but I just keep fighting through!! 🙂 Blessings abound and may that (insignificant) document, which is surely important to you, become another check mark on your list VERY soon. Happy Birthday!

  6. That’s the problem with population growth. There are probably more talented writers alive today than in all the rest of history combined. But the way fashion favours the top few is unchanged. The number of Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy novels that have been sold, 70 million, far outnumbers the entire population of Europe in 1400, 50 million. What chance would Erasmus have today? Just keep writing the best material possible and let history cull the out the stuff that has no staying power.

  7. Please do not take this wrong, but – I kinda feel that maybe you are a little too young to have regrets. Maybe “reflection” is better – and at any age that is a good thing. And I do like your “reflections,” as they remind me that I do not take the time I should to evaluate the past day, year, decade. Thank you, I enjoyed the post.

  8. So far, these past few months in my 30’s are treating me way better than my 20’s ever did. Don’t cry for what you haven’t accomplished look forward to what you can accomplish. As you said Jesus was 30 when he started his ministry and it was a short three years. Look at the impact he made. You will do exactly what you were meant to.

  9. Happy Birthday Sir! Gosh after reading your post, I was “forced” to reflect myself. I usually try to avoid reflecting on the successes and failures in my past. It’s depressing. Especially when you haven’t accomplished the goals you set for yourself. (or even come close for that matter) I’ve recently come to terms with the fact that regardless of the goals I have set for myself. God’s plan for me is still great even if I don’t show up at the pearly gates with a house, a car and a family under my belt.

    When I turned 35 a few weeks ago, I was in the midst of losing my first child to miscarriage. My husband and I had just received the bad news with regard to his immigration application, and to be honest I felt like my world was falling down all around me. At 35 I felt like a failure. It was by the grace of God I was able to pick myself up and carry on. Knowing that even if I don’t accomplish any of the goals I outlined so many years ago, that what I have is so much more. Faith, Love and God.

    Congratulations on your upcoming adoption and I can’t wait to see your books at the local book store. Hope your day was blessed.

    1. Thank you for sharing this. I’m so, so sorry about your miscarriage. It’s hard to imagine anything more infuriating and hurtful. I think this song might apply to you, if you haven’t already heard it before:

  10. Wow! I don’t think I was ever so contemplative about any particular birthday. At thirty I was really just learning to live. I’ve come to view birthdays as an excuse to celebrate the God has made me fearfully and wonderfully, to celebrate being alive right now, to thank God for what he’s done for me in the past year, and eagerly anticipate what God will do in my life in the next year. Happy birthday! God bless you. (I love children’s books and movies too).

  11. Happy 30th Birthday! Hey, I did the SAME thing at 30. I had to move back in with my parents that year, because I was going through a sudden divorce that I didn’t see coming, and I had just quit a good full-time job to go back to college! So I know about regrets! The morning of my 30th birthday my Dad came in to my room while I was getting ready for school and caught me crying. He said, “Happy Birthday, honey” and hugged me. We talked a bit and it made my day. That is one of my most precious memories! I hope it is a great one for you as well!
    Where in Kentucky to you live? I used to live in Jeffersontown, outside of Louisville in the 70’s! 🙂

      1. Yes!! I worked and went to college while I was still back at home, met my present husband and remarried when I was 34. That was almost 19 years ago!! We have two teenagers now and have homeschooled them since our youngest was in 1st grade and the oldest in 3rd grade. That has been 9 years now. I have had a whole new life given to me by the Lord which I have always been very thankful for!

  12. Happy birthday – very belated now (sorry!). If it makes you feel any better, I had the same reflections when I turned 40 last year. I was hoping that by the time I turned 40, I would be financially stable, terrifically mature, super successful and trim, taut and terrific. Oh, well – there’s always 50! 🙂

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