i’m 30! what now?

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Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

i’m 30! what now?

if you squint your eyes really hard and look waaaay back there, you’ll see a tiny, fading blur. see it? yeah, that was my 20s.

gone.

just like that.

now, looming over me like a grey little cloud full of rain is my 30s. [cue the ominous music] that’s right ladies and gentlemen, today, i turn 30 years old.

sign me up for adulthood. say farewell to my decade of blissful youth and virility (tmi??).

ok, time for some perspective. surely as i look both backwards and forwards, there’s plenty of redeeming qualities to this milestone. right?

first of all, in all seriousness, i genuinely do not view turning 30 as some kind of end-of-the-world march to the grave. honestly, if anything, i sort of looked forward to this. i’ve been 20-something for 10 years. it was time for something new. 🙂 also, i’ve just never been a big birthday person, anyway. it’s not that i’m not into birthdays, but i just think way too big of a deal is made about them. today will be a fairly regular routine for me…and that’s pretty much what i expect and want.

certainly though, i recognize that 30 is a fairly big milestone. in many ways, sociologically, 30 is one of the biggest birthdays people have. even more so than the infamous 40th birthday, 30 marks a big shift in terms of cultural/societal perception and social expectations. but i digress…

more than anything, i’ve been somewhat reflective of my 20s. what, precisely, have i done with my life? am i pleased? would i change things? everything?

bottom line: i expect that my 30s will hold far less significant life-altering events than did my 20s. i don’t mean that in a negative/pessimistic way, but more of a stamp of approval for my 20s. i expect nothing less than great and wonderful things over the next decade, but i can move ahead with fond memories of the last decade.

i got hitched: what is bigger than getting married? when i was 22 years old, the absolute last thing i was looking for was a wife. but that’s exactly what happened. it’s proven to be the most significant, beautiful, maturing, necessary event of my 30-year old life. without christen, my life would be pretty grey.

i created little byrds: and, of course, children. 3 kids under the age of 4?! are you kidding me? didn’t think this would happen before i turned 30. maybe we cranked out 1 or 2, but 3 beautiful, perfect children? speaking of virility…

i became a theology nerd: in addition to graduating from college (which pretty much anyone with a pea-sized brain can do these days, if i’m being honest), i managed to find my way to seminary halfway across america (ok, so it was just kentucky…but that’s pretty much like a whole other alternate universe…). those 3 years were truly the most transformative, deeply affective times of my life. i went in, for all practical purposes, a relatively close-minded fundamentalist and came out someone who tried to deeply pursue the way of jesus, able to engage the world with an open mind and the ability to parse out differing viewpoints.

i think eikon: on my 20th birthday, if you would have told me i would have started a church by the time i turned 30, i would have literally openly laughed in your face. honestly, i would have actually been somewhat put off with you. i had zero interest in pursuing full-time pastoral ministry. and here i am, with an incredible community of faith growing here in little rock. i’m genuinely humbled and thankful that i get to have a part in this thing. it’s been incredibly difficult at times, but always well worth it.

no doubt, there are many of big events that occurred throughout my 20s that are worth spending time reflecting on, but these have been the ones that have most put my life on its current course.

so what happens now? what will i reflect on in 10 years when i’m celebrating my 40th birthday? well, i can’t be for sure, but i’m gonna guess it will have significantly less references to skinny jeans and toms shoes (ok, ok, those 2 things had nothing to do with my 20s, but i thought i’d go ahead and insert some clichĂ©s for good measure…). let me give it a stab.

big byrds: when i turn 40, lucy—my oldest child—will become —gasp— a teenager. [cue ominous music again] as bizarre that is to think, i actually look forward to spending the next decade seeing my beautiful children become even more beautiful and intelligent and conversational and explorative and curious and loving and little people learning what it looks like to live in the way of jesus. all of this is exciting to me. and who knows, maybe max won’t be the littlest byrd… (how does this virility thing keep popping up…oh crap, bad joke…)

eikon evolution: i genuinely have no hard-and-fast predictions for the future of eikon. now, i certainly have a relatively fleshed out vision for eikon, but one of my key values for leadership is to allow things to develop organically. no doubt, i will lead and guide in ways that point toward the vision, but i also hope to spend the next decade allowing the church to grow in ways that are healthy and most connective with the broader community of little rock (and maybe even beyond). i see nothing but super positive things for eikon. in 10 years, i think i’ll look back at this time and marvel at how far we’ve come.

another decade of jesus: over the last several years, i feel like i’ve slowly moved toward a fringe of christianity that has demanded that i truly figure out what it means to live out the way of jesus. not some cultural model of jesus. not the american jesus. not the bible belt jesus or the plastic jesus of my childhood. the real jesus. the jesus who sacrificed everything for love. the jesus who stood opposed to a government who engaged in war and oppression and disregard for the least of these. the jesus who would have been confused by a society driven by 401k’s and ladder-climbing and unchecked capitalism. i’m not saying i’m preparing my weapons stockpile and backwoods compound, but i’m simply saying that i plan to continue living another decade in a life committed to figuring out what it actually means to follow jesus. that affects my wife, my children, my church, my friends, my everything. it should be a fun ride. 🙂

i have extremely high hopes for my 30s. i see nothing but positivity. no doubt, the bad will be mixed in, just like my 20s, but i anticipate a lot of great things.

so as i glance back over my shoulder at that tiny, fading blur that is my 20s, i fondly wave goodbye and turn to move ahead into a new era of life.

hello 30s. pleased to meet you.

2 Comments

  1. Katie Mc says:

    Ryan, I'm 41 and I'd not go back to any part of my life. Entering another decade is a perfect opportunity for reflection which you have aptly recorded here (although a life with the Holy Spirit is a constant process of self-examination, isn't it?). What I wish someone had told me when I turned 30 is this: your body will start to break down and things you took for granted will change. Examine your exercise. Your metabolism will slow. Examine your nutrition. You'll notice you resist change–not in huge ways but little ones, like being impatient with those who are in different seasons of life. Examine your heart. Your world can become fuzzy because of career, family, church, social obligations. Examine your priorities. now that I think about it, that same advice applies to 40, 41 and beyond. pardon me while I go do some self-reflection. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  2. Obit says:

    Hi Neda, Could you please chgnae your XML output to have the entire posts. I don’t get the chance to browse websites and I only rely on my rssreader and want to be able to read your blog too.thanks.

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