I have not written in awhile, but it certainly has not been for lack of anything to say. There has been, truthfully, quite the opposite: too much to say.
I just turned 27 and I find myself looking online for skin serums because I’m convinced I see wrinkles emerging, thin lines tracing the length of my forehead where my eyebrows have furrowed so many times. But it was not too long ago that I told myself I would embrace aging, let the gray and wrinkles come and take up space, that I’d refuse to spend money on things to make me look younger.
And now here they are, those lines, and I am pointing them out to everyone, saying, “Do you see this? Do you see?” as if they are the proof of what I’ve been saying for quite some time now: I’m getting older.
And why am I so afraid? Why are any of us so afraid? So afraid of that linear, unstoppable march of time that makes its tracks and runs its divots across all of our faces.
Perhaps it is the fear of missing out; the fear of our own mortality; the fear of regret, of reaching a place where we’re old and tired and at the end, and in this place looking back and realizing we let things get away from us. This metaphorical place, the reflection that comes with it, is the mental space where us poets like to live. It compels us – compels me – to make sure I am slowing down, paying attention, living awake and with intention.
It makes me ask the hard questions: am I, as Walt Whitman says, contributing a verse in this “powerful play?” What am I, as Mary Oliver ponders, doing with my “one wild and precious life?” And am I abiding in Christ, following him, leading a life reflective of the Gospel?
And while I’m looking up the miracle tinctures I told myself I wouldn’t buy, practicing how to say “I’m in my late twenties” (because goodness knows I held on to those “mid-twenties” as long as I could), and dreaming of my future, I must remind myself to slow down. Take time. Pause and consider, ask the questions, sit quietly enough to hear the answers.
I am continually reminded of Psalm 46:10: be still and know I am God. This verse has brought me comfort over the years, and it has meant different things to me in different moments. Recently, however, I am presented with another rendering of the verse:
Be still and know I am God (and, in turn, remember that you are not).
And I think that is one of the other things that we fear, isn’t it? The source of our anxiety: the fear of not being in control. The uncertainty. The examination of wrinkles on our faces, knowing they will only get deeper, that this march will proceed with or without our consent, and there really is no way of knowing where we will end up.
I so often confuse intention with control. I get caught up in thinking if I can just get intentional and focused and motivated, I can control the outcome of my life. I see these lines across my forehead and they panic me, frenzy me, tempt me doubt, to strain.
I get to remember that while I do not have control, I always have choice. He is God, he is good, and I get to choose to participate with him.
I get to practice saying “Yes.” I get to practice being still, leaning in, being reminded that he is God and I am not.
Wrinkles or no wrinkles, 7 or 17 or 27 or 67, I get to trust that he who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it (Philippians 1:6); I get to trust that I have been given everything pertaining to life and Godliness (2 Peter 1:3) –
I get to trust in the endless creativity of God.