Thoughts from the Edge of 29

My schedule these days is pretty bizarre. Since I work with students, who obviously can’t work with me when they are in school, I get to do things like go to Thursday Morning Bible Study (henceforth to be referred to as TMBS) at my church. We are working our way through Exodus (with some forays into Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), and it has been really really good for me.

Exodus is one of those books I know pretty well – conceptually. But I feel like I’m noticing so much I’d missed before.  Reading the same passage 5-7 times each week is helping me do more than just absorb information. I’m getting a feel for Moses’ style, appreciating how the story is being told, mulling over things that are confusing (which, interestingly, I am noticing more, now that I’m reading the same passages over and over again), and picking up on different things with each read. I think typically, when I’ve read, say, Jude, 4 times in 4 years, I have noticed more or less the same stuff each time. But with such intense focus over the course of several days, I am gleaning more and more.

In addition to being excited about connecting with Scripture in a deeper way, I’m fascinated by this shift. I went to seminary largely to learn the Bible better – which totally happened – and to learn to love it better – which also happened. I am learning so much now that I would have loved to learn several years ago. But I don’t think I would be able to see what I’m seeing now without those years – all 29 (plus nine months, I suppose) – of learning. Everything that I’ve learned is somehow incorporated into a foundation of understanding, which frees me to pay attention to things differently.

This feels bizarre because I’ve become more childlike, especially in the way I am engaging Scriptural texts. That’s weird on a number of levels – like how complex and involved and mature the thinking I’m doing is. But the weirdest part, experientially, springs from the fact that I was a very unchildlike child.

It wasn’t until senior year of high school that I stopped trying so hard to be older and more grown up, that I stopped being quite so serious, so die-hard, so ready to go to bat for just about anything. A few examples: When I was about 10, my fashion goal was to dress (convincingly) like a secretary. I stopped reading children’s books (except where required for school) at way too young an age, and missed greats like The Westing Game, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, and The Chronicles of Prydain. (I’ve been playing catch-up since I was 20.) I picked fights about philosophy with high school students when I was in 7th grade. (Ok, so that one has more to do with being obnoxious than grown up.) I was SERIOUS, y’all.

My dog was raised in a racing kennel. He was taught to run fast, go into his crate, and walk on a leash. But he wasn’t allowed to be a puppy; he didn’t learn how to play. Westley was injured in a racing mishap not long after he turned two, and when he came to live with me, I had to teach him to play. He’s still not stellar at it, but he does play every day. He has learned how to be silly and have fun. I think I can appreciate where he’s coming from, having lightened up significantly since my serious childhood. It’s probably one of the reasons we’ve connected so well.

Jesus talks a lot about being like little children when we come to the Father. I am trying to get better at it. Here’s hoping 29 looks a lot more like 10 than 10 did.

Well, in some ways at least.

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