I had originally thought I’d take a break from writing this week in observance of my 50th birthday. I think this occasion is even more of a reason to write.
I recently had a conversation with a buddy my age about our fading youth. He asked, “What wouldn’t you give to be twenty years old again?”
I began to rack my brain thinking of a cool answer to his question. I shocked myself to realize that I couldn’t think of what I’d be willing to pay to be twenty years old again because I don’t want to be twenty years old again.
At that point I realized I was a blessed man!
I remember twenty! Although I was cordial and respectful at twenty, I had many blind spots. At twenty I was somewhat: arrogant, immature, driven, unproven, non-compliant, renegade, critical and impatient. Admittedly, I was also: committed, visionary, hopeful, teachable, loyal, talented and respectful.
The pain of my twenties was created by the inner turmoil of immaturity versus maturity. I wanted things my way without waiting. I wanted to be respected without always respecting. I wanted change without honoring the past. I wanted to be a catalytic leader without any regard for the need for a stabilizing leadership component on my team. My twenties meant that I was too old to justify my adolescent foolishness, and too young to consistently offer decisive sage, wise leadership.
Yes! In my twenties I was viral, optimistic, strong, energetic and visionary, but I was often conflicted. I have faced and wrestled my conflicts throughout my twenties, thirties and forties. The fact that I have wrestled with them makes me hopeful for turning fifty on November 8th. I feel that I am on the verge of greater authenticity, integrity, authority, emotional health, humility, effectiveness, self-awareness, Christ-centeredness, generosity, personal boundaries and a healthy spiritual trajectory.
I would often hear my grandmother reference her journey of faith in her commonly stated mantra “I wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now!”
The greatest gift that I could ever receive at fifty is the realization that I’ll love and enjoy my fifties because I have worked and wrestled my entire life to be in position to be the husband, dad, community activist and man that I am today. I was neither of these at twenty!
I gave myself the assignment of summing up my fifty years in this fifty word poem:
I am loved thoroughly.
I have lived as I’ve believed.
I can’t imagine life without faith or God.
I’ve seen oceans, the oval office, the Holy Land, the Alps, the northern lights, a safari, birth.
I hope my next half century is as sweet as the first.
Dreams come true.
Dr. Alex Gee is the senior pastor and founder of Fountain of Life Family Worship Center and the president and founder of Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development.