Lately I’ve been battling the feeling that my opportunities are slipping away and that I’m quickly approaching the “Too Old” category to begin to pursue my dreams. I know it’s not true, but emotions can get the best of us despite knowing better.
I am a Gen-X’er. Right smack in the middle of the Gen X generation as a matter of fact. We grew up on the heels of the extremely large Boomer generation and were trailed by the equally large Gen Y. When we became young adults, ready to begin careers and make a mark on this world the Boomer generation was nowhere near ready to retire. They made it abundantly clear that they would not be making room for us as anytime soon. We were patient and we found a way to wait it out. Now as Boomers are finally beginning to come to terms with retirement Gen Y is hitting the work force and they come with their own expectations of their place in the work force.
For a long time we were told by Boomers that we were just too young and needed to wait our turn and now we’re told by Gen Y that we are getting too old and no longer have a place, that it’s their turn to run the show.
Add this to the usual middle age angst and you can understand why we may be tempted to think we missed the boat. I know we haven’t. I know I haven’t. But knowing something and feeling it are not one and the same. So while I keep putting one foot in front of the other and pursuing my dreams I battle despair trying to tell me it’s too late.
This morning I was listening to Rick Warren’s podcast Daily Hope when he mentioned Caleb of Old Testament Bible fame (Joshua 14:6-15). When Caleb was 40 he was ready to take his inheritance, live his dream and build a legacy, but others were not convinced. As a result an entire generation ended up missing out on their dreams and their calling and all except 2 (Caleb and Joshua) died without achieving what they could have. Forty plus years later Caleb got to see his dreams fulfilled and achieve his goals.
Caleb was ready at 40 but he didn’t get to see it happen till 85. I can only imagine what he must have felt in those 45 years between. Disappointment and frustration because even though he was ready and willing to move ahead he was held back by other people’s unwillingness to move forward. Perhaps he even felt frustration as he watched a new generation grow up and have ideas about what the future would be like and those ideas didn’t mesh with Caleb’s real life experience. Discouragement at how long it was taking and how much longer it would still be. Doubt about whether or not he would actually be able to do it when the time came. Perhaps he would no longer be heeded as a leader. Perhaps no one would follow him and would instead tell him to, “Get out of the way old man!”
Caleb had so many opportunities to let his dream die in those 45 years, but he didn’t. In the middle years, in those horrendously long waiting years Caleb kept himself strong and fit. He kept his dream alive and he prepared for the day that would come, must come. He was ready when those 45 years were up. I wonder if he was a little giddy, maybe even having to stifle laughter at the funeral of the last member of the nay-sayers group. It was time to go and get on with it and Caleb did not wait to declare he was ready, willing and able.
I admit I’m still in the middle years. I can just see the dream on the horizon and the naysayers in my life are dying off. It’s almost time to go and live that dream so while doubt and discouragement, fear and disappointment may try to make me give up, I’m going to do what Caleb did. I’m going to make sure I’m fit and strong, capable and able both physically and spiritually. I’m going to work on building my strength, developing my understanding and planning the legacy.
I’ll be honest, I’m really praying I don’t have to wait till I’m 85! What I do know is that if something was promised to me, if I have a calling to live and a legacy to leave then when the right time comes, when the waiting is over, if I’ve prepared, kept strong and done my part to be ready my age won’t matter. Neither will yours.
Prepare, stay strong and build strength. Develop your understanding and grow in wisdom. Then get ready. Maybe you too will have to stifle laughter at a funeral!