Twenty Years

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I stare at myself in the mirror.
A deep breath fills my lungs, pushes down anxiety bubbling just under the surface.

Twenty years older.
Twenty years since high school.
Twenty years before life would mature us, refine us, wreck us.

Seems like a lifetime ago.
{It kinda was.}

A reunion is coming.
As the thought of it hovers in the recesses of my mind, I deliberately push it back, avoiding an inevitable confrontation.

A quiet part of me doesn’t want to go.
{There. I said it.}

Can we just be real for a second? For some , our backsides are bigger (ahem, cough, cough). We’ve got muffin tops, pot bellies, an occasional limp and a wee-bit of a second chin. We failed to avoid our father’s receding hair lines, our Mother’s crow’s feet.

Maybe your figure is still as cute as it was in 1995 (I hate you. But whatevs.), yet the ghosts of your past weigh on you. Decisions you made play in your mind, and you just aren’t sure you want to see those people again.
{I hear ya loud and clear, people. I remember those things I wish I hadn’t done too.}

Or just maybe, life hasn’t turned out like you thought it would. A once promising career has failed, a marriage fell apart, or you’re flat broke. Maybe all three. Perhaps infertility wreaked havoc on you and you didn’t have the children you so desperately prayed for.

Heartbroken doesn’t begin to cover it. Embarrassment wells up like an ugly monster.
You don’t want to go because quite frankly, you don’t want to answer questions.

{Sweet friend, come as you are. We all have scars and wounds. Some of us just cover them better than others.}

The thing is, none of us are who we were twenty years ago. All have faced challenges and difficulty. Every single one of us of us have gained and lost.

We’ve gained children, spouses, education, careers. We’ve found a few wrinkles and gray hairs. Gained weight, wisdom, wealth…step-children, second wives, self-discipline. Some of us have found grace, mercy, forgiveness. Sobriety, softness of spirit, second chances.

Yes friends, we have gained much.

For all we have gained, much has been lost also. We’ve lost dear friends and family, mothers and brothers. We’ve wept at the brevity of life, and held fast to time with loved ones that would never be enough.  Some of us have lost jobs, money, and our minds. We have been up to our necks in debt, diapers and dirty laundry. We’ve been bruised, knocked down, wounded by curve balls we never saw coming.

The point is, a reunion isn’t a time for us to pretend we are who we used to be.
Because we aren’t.
And there is beauty in that.

There is beauty in the messiness of life. Beauty in the realness. I’d be willing to bet for some of us, our hearts are more tender than they ever were twenty years ago. Time has given us perspective, wisdom, discernment. And in the richness of this messy life- the chaos and sacrifices, and the wondering if I’m doing this thing with everything I’ve got, the quiet moments when we are overwhelmed with the Lord’s kindness toward us – that is where we find beauty.

We’ve lived life in these twenty years, you and me.
And you are more beautiful than you have ever been.
Don’t let anything tell you otherwise.

I wonder how the Lord has grown and stretched you.
Where He has taken you.
I can’t wait to see your face, your smile, hear your laughter.

It is decided.

Come too, friend.
You’ve been missed.

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