So, I turned 27 a few days into my Wheaton in the Holy Lands experience. I’ll post more about those six weeks soon–I have a couple of posts in the works but want to give them the time, thought, and effort that they deserve.
Somehow, 27 feels a whole lot closer to 30, and 30 seems…well…old. (Sorry for any of you reading this who are over 30…but, you’ve been there, right?!?). I actually heard two girls from the US talking last night, and one was explaining that she’ll turn 27 in a couple months and it suddenly feels much closer to 30, so I’m not the only one, at least. Maybe the fact that I spent the past six weeks alongside 38 undergrads with an average age of 20 made me feel that much closer to 30. I’ve loved my 20s and most of what they’ve entailed: the adventures, the challenges, and the amazing ways God has shown His faithfulness in this decade of my life. Granted, He’s always been faithful and always will be, but I’ve absolutely seen that in the past 7 years.
Sidenote: all of life is not about cancer. Despite its very real and memorable presence in my story and history, and despite its impact on and molding of many aspects of my life, it is not the center of my life. I hope that, despite the fact that I talk about it here frequently, you know that life is so much bigger, and my life is so much more than the cancer I had five years ago.
However, that doesn’t mean I’m not reminded of it often or that I don’t keep realizing its impact on my life in new ways. I had a sobering realization about a week and a half ago while sitting at the Flavian Amphitheater (Colosseum) in Rome, learning about the lives of gladiators and the Ancient Romans. When our guide mentioned that the life expectancy was 40.5 years for women in Ancient Rome, I thought, “Hmmm…that means that if I’d lived back then, by now–age 27–my life would be 2/3 over.”
Then I realized that actually, if I had lived back then, my life would be over. In fact, it would have been over years ago–I wouldn’t have made it much past the age of 21. I’m not sure why I never thought of that before, but I had a moment while sitting there, clearly no longer listening to our guide’s lecture. I realized that, had I lived in any other era–until within the past 50 or 60 years–I wouldn’t have made it past 21 due to the lack of modern medicine or knowledge of Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Now, I realize that’s super hypothetical; if I lived in any other era, all of life would be so completely different that who’s to say whether I would have even had cancer at 21. Making it past 5 years old was a feat in and of itself, and there are no guarantees I wouldn’t have been taken out by the common cold, the flu, cholera, or whatever other diseases people have dealt with throughout history.
Still, that thought made me so thankful to be living in the year 2014 and to have had cancer in 2009 rather than 1959 or earlier. One of my favorite movies is Midnight in Paris. Owen Wilson’s character has an epiphany at the end of the film that the present is a little unsatisfying because life is a little unsatisfying, but the truly courageous or necessary thing to do is to live in the present, not yearning nostalgically for the past or a different era. It’s a good point, and it’s one that, when added with the blessings of modern medicine, I have a new appreciation for. I’m so thankful to be living right now, despite all of the chaos in the world–in large part because technology and medicine made it possible for me to be living right now.
So, my realization in the Colosseum led me to quickly praise the Lord, once again, for His sovereignty in my life–this time for being born in 1987, even if that means I’m now 27 and feeling ever closer to 30. Praise the Lord that I am 27 and made it to this point. I don’t appreciate the gift of life often enough, but when I remember how it’s not guaranteed, I’m always humbled and so thankful for God’s healing and for whatever He has for my life, including growing older.
Aging: is it really so bad? Maybe it’s a blessing to actually be able to age, and maybe my generation, though so fraught with tumult and chaos, is a pretty good generation to be living in.
On Christ the solid Rock I stand,