Half a century is how long I’ve been breathing air according to the calendar.

Here’s the heart-level truth about what this milestone means to me, aside from the pleasure of getting an AARP card in the mail:

I’ve spent the last 50 years finding my way back to myself and will spend my remaining years being everything I was meant to be from the first knitting in my mother’s womb. Godspeed, dear one.

‘For some reason, it takes us a long time to get where we already are,” says the wise and mystical priest, Fr. Richard Rohr.

He’s so right.

We are born into this vast world fully equipped with everything we need: a north star beating inside our chest. This divine light both illuminates our journey forward and beckons us to remember where ‘home’ is—that sacred space where we are fully known and fully loved, just as we are.

“Shine on, beautiful child,” God whispers to each one of us after kissing us into existence. “You are worthy and complete, loved and adored. Now, go, do your thing.”

And we go. We do our thing. Life and all of its ages and stages unfold before us.

We wobble, skip, and stumble forward, living and dying our way along the journey. Awe, wonder, joy, love, and delight greet us at every turn. Unfortunately, right alongside rejection, abandonment, exclusion, tragedy, and loss. Life is a magnificent paradox. Joy and suffering. Love and loss. Victory and defeat.

All the tough stuff can be disorienting, resulting in a slow death of that inner knowing about who we are and why we’re here. The good news is God hard-wired that north star into our existence and the light never goes completely dark. We can always find our way back home; get to where we’ve always been.

As it turns out for me, it’s taken me five decades to figure this out. I’ve had a lot of unlearning to do in the process.

Poet and farmer, Wendell Berry, talked about how important it is to take one piece of land and do it right. I didn’t know what “land” I should be working on, let alone how to do it right for quite some time.

Things began to change in my 20s when I found my person and had three kids by age 27. My family became my ‘land,’ and I was hellbent on ‘doing it right.’ Which I did pretty well until I didn’t.

My 30s is when my emotions and past experiences got the best of me. I spent this decade trying to survive and not screw up my kids or my marriage. It was a ten-year run-on sentence that sounded a lot like: will life always be so hard and why am I just now learning that I’m dragging around all this unresolved pain and will my kids talk about me on Oprah someday and will my marriage survive this roller coaster and who in the world thought I was capable of raising three humans this close in age and why am I not happy all the time when I have so many blessings and who am I anyway and will I always feel so broken and just how long can I go on pretending I have all my shit together when clearly, I do not. So help me, God.

This plus: life is so amazing and my family is my world and my husband is a saint and my kids bring me incredible joy and it’s a privilege being home to raise them and who knew how deep and profound love could be and I don’t think I deserve any of this, but here I am the luckiest girl in the world. So thank you, God.

Then came the 40s, and I began a mission to heal, transform, and become the best version of myself. The authentic me. The naked without shame me. Even got a tattoo and inked my spiritual goals on my body—a defining moment at 45 when I began to unmask the hippy and happy I’d buried for too long. I spent my fourth decade deconstructing my constructed self so I could find my way home.

And here I am. The realest real me I’ve been to date. My guy is still by my side and has loved me through the madness. I have a better grasp on who I am and for sure know whose I am. I even figured out that self-love and self-compassion are real things that actually work out well for us. Who knew? The sooner we remember that God made us in His image and likeness and said we were good, the better. I’ve finally recognized that good in myself.

When you turn 50, you stop giving a crap about what other people think about you—especially yourself. I’ve grown tired of the voice in my head who tells me who I am and who I’m not. The constant nag who reminds me of my failures, chides me about my weaknesses, and mocks me for not following through on my convictions.

That made up, ego self is worse than any real person who feeds us lies or speaks untruths about our value and worth. She needs to go, so what God has to say about us is the only voice that rings true.

Now my kids are launched and following their own north stars. They have been my greatest teachers, stretching me long, wide, far, and deep. I am a better human because of them. So, that “land” is taken care of, and I’ve done my very best to do it right.

I’m moving on to a new piece of earth, and plan on doing this second act of my life right. I know what makes me smile, stirs my heart, moves my soul, and brings me joy. I know what matters and what doesn’t serve me well. There is incredible freedom in this space. It’s wall-to-wall love all around.

So, yeah. I’m 50 and freaking grateful to be alive.

These are unbelievably trying times in our world right now. But, TOGETHER we will push forward. We are wired to do life side-by-side. Taking care of one another is our one piece of land, and we must figure out how to do it right.

Be well, friends. You have my heart.

And here is something to make you smile. Because of our quarantine and social distancing, all the plans for my 50th–a surprise party, a Lauren Daigle concert, and a family trip to Boulder– all went in the dumpster. But what can you do? At least the hubs and I and my daughter were able to celebrate at home. Little did I know that a crazy crew of friends would show up bearing gifts and singing happy birthday from outside. It was epic and proof of how much love we can spread from a distance. Oh, the love that day… click here

xo

A self-described “sappy soul whisperer and sarcasm aficionado,” Shelby is a wife of 27 years & mom of three 20-something kiddos. She has a deep love for Jesus and storytelling, and most days she muses in rhetorical wonder over what God was thinking when He put her in charge of three humans. Although God’s quick to remind her how capable she is, apparently He sometimes does so while crossing His fingers behind His back. You can read her stories around the web and in print at Guideposts.