I am now in my thirties. I know I am because I don’t understand how to use Snapchat, I really enjoy going to bed before 10:00 p.m., and the only song I know by Kanye West is “Golddigger.”
When you hit 30, you start saying stuff like, “We really need this rain,” “That’s not worth the calories,” and “I’m glad those plans fell through because I didn’t want to go anyway.”
Everything in your life becomes a little more planned out as you age. It has to. I find myself putting activities in my calendar like, “gym,” “mow the lawn,” and “take your One-A-Day men’s vitamin.” I have to because I will forget, and I also need to make sure I have time to do everything I need to do in a day.
Here’s what getting lunch with a friend looks like in college:
“Hey, my class got canceled. Want to grab lunch?”
Now here is what it looks like at 30:
“Hey, would you like to get lunch?”
“Yes, let’s see . . . I’m free 3 weeks from now. And I can’t eat bread anymore.”
When you’re in your teens and twenties, being flaky and unorganized can be seen as endearing, and people will say, “He’s such a free spirit.” When 30 hits, they start saying, “He’s not marriage material.”
That’s why I find myself living off of my calendar more and more. It’s not that life necessarily gets busier, but our activities carry more weight. My time seems to move faster and is now more valuable to me because of the role I have as a husband and a full-time employee.
I struggle with the increasing weight of my life decisions. I’m less inclined to throw caution to the wind and risk everything, because as I get older I feel like I have more to lose. It’s not romantic to sleep on floors and pursue your dreams of being a musician if you have a family who needs food, shelter, and Netflix.
It can be hard to be a dreamer when you’re worried about keeping your job.
I used to believe that everyone should follow their passions. I guess I still believe it, but not in the same way. I think we are selling younger generations an impossible American Dream when we tell them they can be anything they want to be.
They may think, “What do I want to be? Well, it would be great to be Justin Timberlake, I think I’ll be him.” Then some kid who can’t sing, rap, or pull off an all-denim outfit at the AMAs starts down a path where he’ll live in denial until someone has the guts to tell him, “You are really bad at this. And stop wearing a Fedora everywhere.”
This is not a popular message to be sharing. I get it. I feel like I’m Mister Roger’s grumpy neighbor who calls the cops because the puppets are being too loud. But we waste so much energy believing we’re meant to be anything we want to be, when God could have a completely different plan for us.
Perhaps the most “get hyped” verse in the Bible is Philippians 4:13.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Christians love it. We yell it before we run out onto a football field. We say it under our breaths before interviews. We recite it multiple times before seeing extended family members at Thanksgiving. It’s our catchy reminder that we can be anything we want to be.
But if you look just a few verses earlier, you’ll see that Paul wasn’t psyching himself up before an appearance on Greece’s Got Talent.
“. . . I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:11-12)
Paul was speaking about the power of contentment. The wisdom to look at Christ and then look at his life and say, “This is enough. I am enough.”
If we really want to quote Philippians 4:13 in context, it would probably be more accurate to say, “I can be content through Christ who strengthens me.”
When you know you are enough, you don’t have to prove it any other way with your life. That’s not to say we throw off all of our ambitions, but we can bet that no job title, no amount of friends, and no dream alone will ever be enough to make us content if we don’t seek contentment through Christ who strengthens us.
Our dreams are not bad, and they may not even be misguided. But they do not hold the power to give us purpose. I think so many of us with ambitions can get down on ourselves if we’re not the massive success we want to be. We feel like a failure because we have to work a day job. Maybe we even feel like working a day job means we completely gave up on our dreams.
There are people who reach their dream and then realize it’s not all it was cracked up to be. Then, they end up burning out in the passion they used to love because that passion became their full-time job.
What if God’s dream for you is to be right where you are?
Saying, “I’ll go where you send me,” is no more important than saying, “I’ll stay where you have me.”
You’ll never be enough in this life until you know you are already enough.