I had someone tell me that if they heard that phrase one more time they were going to punch the person who said it. In their defense, this person’s been through some tough times, and I can understand where they see such a phrase as holding little real meaning in their lives… if they choose to see it that way. Heck, we could all see it that way, I suppose. I did, once.
It was about the time I hit forty. I looked around at my life, and while it was a pretty good life for the most part, I felt a little like the leftovers in my refrigerator. Pushed to the back, taking up space, forgotten, of not much use to anyone, and maybe a little moldy. Yep. I felt like the best years of my life were, for all intents and purposes, pretty much done. I looked around assessing my situation, put my hands on my hips, and said, “Alright sister… this is it. Ships have sailed, opportunity is through knocking on your door, you are like that one-hit-wonder (whose name escapes me) from the eighties who had that great song, but are forever off the radar.” And I headed headfirst into depression.
I slept a lot. I meandered even more. I sighed constantly. It was a gloomy few months in the land of Stacey. No one wanted to go vacation there. I didn’t even want to be there, and yet I couldn’t seem to find my way out. I couldn’t, that is, until I stopped looking inward and started looking around me. About that time, I had some friends, my age and even a bit older, who were doing things. Great things. Things that a short time before they could never have seen themselves doing. Purposeful and meaningful things. Things that had absolutely nothing to do with them, and yet they found completely fulfilling. God. Sized. Things.
It took a little time, but I did finally climb out of my funk, or depression, or the all about me pity party, or whatever you’d like to call it. I dusted myself off, straightened up a bit and peered around from a new vantage point. It was hard to see things at first through the gloom, but I knew that if God had things for my friends to do, things that gave them purpose and fulfillment, then certainly he had something for me, too. I began to start to believe that the best days of my life were indeed still to come. But nothing changed in my life until I was willing to believe they could; until I truly believed God had more for me.
I took one step, just one tiny step, and the next thing I knew, I was on a stage directing a musical production for a women’s conference at one of the largest churches in Charlotte, North Carolina. Me. The one who was all moldy and ready for the trash bin just a few months prior. I found my life again when I decided to invest it in other women. Suddenly, I was the dancing queen! I mean figuratively… we used the song Dancing Queen in the production. 🙂 And no, there is no video…
I learned from that time on that I was far from done. Sure, I have some years on me. I’m no spring chicken anymore, but who cares? I’m still here. I’m still breathing. I still love people and investing in them. I love pouring into young women and sharing from my experiences. Why else do we have all this life experience? It’s not to keep to ourselves, is it? I don’t think so. And I want to keep learning. I don’t ever want to get so old that I think I know everything, and that I have nothing left to learn. I can’t stand being around older folks who think they already know everything. Younger people have a lot to learn, but they have a lot to teach us, too!
And now, at almost fifty, I am learning better how to find my identity in Christ. I am not who my husband says I am. I am not who my kids say I am, or my friends, or my critics. It’s not even fair to put that burden on those people. I am who my Father in Heaven says I am, and He thinks I’m pretty awesome. He thinks you’re pretty awesome, too, by the way.
Learning to find my identity in Christ alone has done wonders for being able to believe the best is yet to come in my life. Christ came to secure our eternity, but he also came that we might have an abundant life here, now. As we start another year, I want to encourage all my friends to look ahead. Believe that as we learn to find our identity in the Author and Perfector of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), the best story lines of our lives really are just a few pages ahead. Kinda makes you wish you could read faster, doesn’t it?