We're never getting older

This last week I traveled back to my hometown to go to the Belong Tour with the Goddaughter.  It was part of a trip to renew myself – spiritually and physically.  My hope was to take time to vision cast.  For myself, for ministry and to spend time pouring into myself.
There’s this lake near my house that I used to walk around whenever I needed some perspective.  It’s right outside my neighborhood and throughout high school and college it was a sacred place for me.  It has this hill on the backside of the lake that when you got to the top you could look out over the neighborhood and see the mountains in the background.  It was my favorite view.
This last trip home I realized the view changed.  I hadn’t walked the lake in several years.  So many trips home have been too busy to even get a walk or run in, but this trip I took to the trail to get a glimpse of that view.  But when I rounded the corner, up the hill, I looked out and realized I couldn’t see the mountains anymore.  The trees of the neighborhood have grown over the last 10 years and all you see are the tops of the trees.
The pictures above are my best efforts to capture this change.  On the left is a picture from March of 2006.  I was a junior in college – life in complete disarray – or so I thought.  I clearly remember the walk I took, desperate to see something bigger than myself.  I almost wish I could go back to that 20 year old version of myself and tell her what’s to come.  To take a deep breath and brace yourself because it’s gonna get a whole lot worse before it gets better.
In 2006 I was in the throws of my first heartbreak.  I was on staff at my home church for the first time, working out what it meant to be called to youth ministry.  I was mentoring a group of girls for the first time.  I was coming to terms with the concept of a broken family.  I spent my days doing homework at a random little coffee shop in a theater because my friend worked there and sometimes gave me free upgrades on my order.  I was just getting to know some friends who would become my closest allies in the darkest parts of my story.
The picture on the right was last week.  Every time I go home I have that nostalgia for the life that I lived in CO.  But this last trip really gave me some perspective.  I ran into that boy who broke my heart and was genuinely happy for the man he’d become all these years later.  In a moment of divine appointment, I ran into one of the girls who I was mentoring back then and met her son, watched her loving talk to her husband and tell me all about their life these days.  That same friend who used to give me free coffee now owns his own coffee shop and I spent the day dreaming about life and ministry in that gorgeous space. Also attending the Belong Tour was my own youth pastor who gave me my first chance to do ministry.
In the 10 years of life between these two pictures, so much has changed.  It’s not just trees that have grown, I have too.  In those 10 years I have lived in 5 different states.  I have worked at 4 churches doing internships and gaining experience.  I was ordained and called to a church that I love to do a work I feel very passionate about.  I’ve learned to become healthy in the midst of heartbreak and joy.
I’ve become someone who knows there is no truth to the feeling that we will never get older.  Nor is there really any desire in my heart to not get older.  These years have been a gift to me, a blessing that has been bestowed on me.
As we grow, we keep adding identities on top of one another.  The girl I was 10 years ago that took that sunset picture in an attempt to be artsy is still in me, like a nesting doll with head phones blaring John Mayer.  She’s been covered with new versions of me.  And what I’m realizing more and more is that I like this most outer nesting doll.  And I can’t wait to see what the next one looks like.

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