32…an age of maturity and youth. Of established surety and bright future. Of purpose.
That is my age. Are those the expectations of society? That in the early thirties you have bright plans and steady hands? Maybe. Then again, I am a millennial. Society has mixed opinions about us. We are maybe too slow to be established. Maybe, though, we are all adjusting our expectations.
When I was young, maybe 12 or so, I looked at my Bible with curiosity, fear, reverence, and hope. Hope that one day the grace they spoke of would outweigh the fear they gave me of hellfire and shame. Hope that grace would win in my mind, that I would know the Jesus of the gospel books, the gentle but fearsome Jesus who braved the cross out of love. Hope that maybe when I got to be this age I would know grace through and through, that it would make my hands steady and future bright and sure.
Here I am, the echo of this hope and the fragrance of this grace forming a fragile architecture in my mind. The doubt, fear, confusion and sin of the past couple decades have cast a shadow, making it hard to remember the grace that hangs around, so fragile.
It is a new year. I will be 33 this year. Perhaps it is a year for growth again. For hands to work toward steadiness, for faith in hope, for bravery in this crazy world. This is a fast-turning world with genuine objections to what it views as the tyranny of Christianity, a world that bursts with hopes for grace and vibrant color and joy. Perhaps those beautiful things come from other things – not religion, but air and sun and laughter and dancing. But then, maybe those things are religion too. Maybe those things are inherent in the grace that unfolds in Scripture. Maybe this is a year to lean into the questions and objections of a millennial age. Maybe this is a year to open the Bible again, to read the news again, to read and read again and to listen to my neighbors as they tell me their stories.
Maybe this is the year for steady hands.
Maybe this is the year to pray:
Creator, give me more grace: let me brave the ideas, open. Let me learn more. Let me find You. Or not find you. Maybe let You go. Maybe find You again. Lord, help me know something this year. Bring me to my knees and help me stand up again. If I cannot be brave in this life, why do I dare to live? As I lie awake in bed next to someone whose heart belongs to me, I feel in his breathing the call to have a basis for living, for loving him, for breathing myself. Lord, help me learn. Help me be brave.
Give me grace.
Give me steady hands.