I just turned 50, and it’s a bit underwhelming. AARP sent me a membership application.
Isn’t 50 when you’re supposed to be at the peak of your career, when you’re supposed to be settled with who you are and where you fit in the world? Isn’t 50 when you’re supposed to have your shit together?
Because I’m not there. I’m by no means settled, and my poop isn’t in much of a group.
I thought by 50 I’d feel big enough to fill the space I inhabit, but I feel smaller at 50 that I did at 30. I am less sure of many things I took for Truth, and more certain that there’s a lot I don’t understand.
Surprisingly, I’m becoming convinced that’s how it’s supposed to be. I used to think the world needed my brilliance, my superior understanding of what’s right and what’s best. I don’t think that anymore, that it’s helpful for me to tell everyone else what’s right. That’s just ego and privilege.
I do have the right and obligation to share the best of me, including what I’ve learned in my 50 years. Take it as you will. Because I’ve surrendered being right about so much, my list is short:
People matter. It’s a staple of my faith. All people – all – are created by God; how I treat others reflects my regard for God. The single most important way I can express my faith is to care for God’s creation, starting with people.
People are generally doing the best they can. I have a habit of judging choices and actions by my own imperfect standards. I need to give people the benefit of the doubt. They’re doing the best they can within their own circumstances.
I’m people, too. My judgment rests most heavily on me, and this might be the hardest part, to give myself the same benefit of doubt I need to offer others. I’m generally doing the best I can.
Actions speak louder than words. Caring for people requires work, not just words. This is especially true when helping people claim their own dignity, with justice. And when behavior harms others, benefit of the doubt or not, I need to act to change it. There are still lines to draw, positions to hold. I’d like 50 year old me to do a better job of this.
Fifty years and 4 bullet points. You’d think there would be more, but in my next decade I’m focusing on less, but trying harder to make a difference for people.