Someone invited me to join a young adult group today and my heart skipped a beat at the thought that I am still young.
Youth is in the eye of the beholder, but numbers are numbers. Though I’m a bit ahead of schedule for a mid-life crisis, I’ve always been advanced when it comes to angst. The past few months have been emotionally tumultuous, through the fault of nothing but my own bleeding heart.
Yes, it’s a cliché, but everything suddenly feels impermanent. I’m old enough to have a list of people I love whom I won’t see again. I’m old enough to know that there are a lot of benefits that come with youth, and that they are fleeting.
I’m young enough to have lots of choices in front of me, but old enough to know that choosing means abandoning other options. I’m young enough for lots of dreams, but old enough to see behind me the empty husks of other dreams that didn’t pan out.
I’m old enough to have settled into a blessed, exciting, joyful life, but young enough to agonize over what will come during the rest of my years. I still feel this itchy want, and I don’t know what for.
I pray often the prayer of St. Ignatius which concludes “give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me.” Sometimes the words catch in my throat because there is still so much more that I want, more than love and grace, and I weep for the depth of that hunger and the feeling of faithlessness that comes with that want.
Still I keep praying, because love and grace are all that can heal me and bring peace. Accomplishment, youthfulness, security, certainty and all the other idols we think will fill us up can never, ever save us. If only I could convince the weakest parts of me that is true.
Here’s the deal I made with myself: I can want (of course I can, how could I not?) as long as I clear my head daily to yank myself back from the precipice of idolatry away from the lying voice saying “only the fulfillment of your will can make you whole”.
I can plead or cry as long as I acknowledge that God doesn’t need my tantrums to know my heart.
I can fret and lament the passage of time as long as I remember all the other times that God has healed my heart – and that the healing was accomplished in part through time’s passing.
Your love and grace are enough for me – yes. They are what I rely on, they are what sustain me, they are merciful when my heart is noisy and inspiring when it is ready to grow. Your love and grace are enough. I mean this, even when I don’t.