On Turning 30

How do you sum up the last decade of your life?

A decade of laughter and heartbreak.

A decade in which you had over thirty different roommates, moved exactly ten times, bought a house, traveled to Syria on a writing trip, climbed to the top of a 14,000 foot mountain, walked along the Great Wall of China, and married the man you love more now than the day you married him.

A decade when you found the words to name your sins and the courage to confess them.

A decade of brightly colored fish barely skimming your skin as you snorkeled across the ocean’s surface.

A decade of song lyrics that spoke to you:

“So when you run make sure you run / To something and not away from ’cause / Lies don’t need an aeroplane to chase you anywhere” –The Avett Brothers, The Weight of Lies

“All this heaven never could describe such a feeling as I’m hearing / Words were never so useful / So I was screaming out a language that I never knew existed before” –Florence and the Machine, All This and Heaven Too

“Flood waters rise, but it won’t wash away / Love never dies, it will hold on more fierce than graves / Farther than the pale moon rises on the open plains / Past the time and the longest blood line / There shines an immortal flame” –Josh Garrels, Flood Waters

A decade when your belly went from firm to full to soft.

A decade of discovering how motherhood doesn’t just change your lifestyle, but your identity.

A decade of salt water, arctic winters, sunburnt legs, numb toes, static hair, rosy cheeks, sweat, and an ever-growing number of freckles on your shoulders.

A decade of finding peace in nature.

A decade when your traumatic birth experience led you to researching global maternal health and learning that the U.S. has the worst maternal health outcomes of any developed country.

A decade of tossing the laundry in the wash and maybe putting it in the dryer the next day.

A decade that began with ballet shoes and ended with your bare feet.

A decade when you saw translucent jellyfish as big as hula hoops swim alongside your boat and they took your breath away.

A decade of promising to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.

A decade when a faint second line appeared on that stick and your heart grew and the world changed.

A decade when you met a little French boy on the flight from Abu Dhabi to Chicago and wondered who he would become when he grows up.

A decade of pizza and green smoothies and kale and grilled cheese and guacamole and almond butter and fried over-medium eggs with lots of cracked black pepper and coffee, please.

A decade in which you read the entire Bible and discovered the beauty of the Psalms.

A decade when Nathan told you he wanted to watch one of your favorite films with you and you suggested Once and you were worried he wouldn’t like it but he did and you knew he was for real.

A decade of the awe of life happening inside of you and changing you, forever.

A decade filled with the intoxicating sound of your baby laughing, his soft cheek pressed against yours, and the love that washes over us.

A decade of trusting that “God’s mercies are new every morning.”

A decade when you became a poetry editor for the undergraduate literary magazine, and changed your major from Dance to English.

A decade when you cried the whole drive home, and cried alone in a tiny room in Japan, and cried when they wheeled you into the operating room.

A decade of trying to avoid hard conversations and the slow acknowledgement that avoidance cannot lead to peace or intimacy.

A decade of finding Nathan and the feeling of gratitude that fills your heart knowing that you get to have the man you love by your side through all life’s joys and sorrows.

A decade that ends with you appreciating your body more than you did at the start.

A decade of friends moving away, and you moving away.

A decade of books that changed your way of thinking: Whiter Than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy by Paul David Tripp, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World by Paul Miller, Found: A Story of Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer by Micha Boyett, and The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile.

A decade of striving to say yes to your creative spirit.

A decade of learning about the wonders of hormones and how to chart your fertility.

A decade of goodbyes that come from a decade of not living in the same state as your parents.

A decade when you sat with your sister at an airport in Thailand and hugged her and cried so hard and you learned that it’s okay to be sad—it means you love someone, it means you belong somewhere, and it means heaven is our ultimate home where there are no goodbyes, ever.

A decade of learning that a meaningful life is not found in traveling or fine things or achievements or experiences or recognition, but in the thousands of unseen ways we decide to do the hard thing, the right thing, even when the sacrifice is great.

Maybe the summation of a decade is in the love you give away and the work you put into it and the grace of God that covers all your efforts.

I can’t quantify my life, but I can choose to give it away for the sake of something greater.

Something that will outlast me.

Cheers to my twenties and all the beautiful people who shaped me for the better. I am grateful for you, grateful to God, and expectant for all that is to come.

Love,

Melanie

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