Being 30-something is like being an adolescent all over again.

Joy sad and disappointed

I realized this today as I was responding to a survey question for 30-somethings on Frank Viola’s blog (if he gets over 100 responses, he’ll give away prizes to 5 respondents). Though his question is focused primarily on relationships in the church, I believe it goes wider and deeper than that. We struggle with relationships in general: marriage, friendships, churches, family. It’s difficult to break through the veneer to the real life underneath, where we can practice and exhibit the kind of unconditional love we crave.

I think we’re afraid to connect at a deep level. I’ve been burned. My idealism jaded (but not completely destroyed), I dangle my feet in cynicism instead. I’ve thought it 1000 times: “I’d rather prepare for the worst and be pleasantly surprised than hope for the best and be bitterly disappointed.” Yet I cannot help but protest, “It isn’t supposed to be this way!” when confronted with brokenness again.

These ten years have been (are?) a time of transition. I’m trying to leave behind the slavery of people-pleasing and embrace the freedom of concerning myself only with pleasing God. But my hands are very full, and so is my heart, full of children and an adolescent marriage (we’ll be married 14 years this fall) and work and stewardship of our resources. I am busy, but self-doubting, wondering if this is really what God has called me to do and be or if I’m missing it or being lazy or drifting. Or is this a season of preparing, cultivating, training, and anticipating the next?

If I have anything in common with the rest my age, we’re overwhelmed, scarred by life, and uncertain, yet we haven’t given up enough hope to despair completely.

Am I right? What is or has been your experience in your 30s?

[Taking a break from the book series to reflect a little this Friday.]