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  • Writer's pictureJoel Elliott Mooneyhan

Thirty Six

Updated: Sep 23, 2020

Thirty-five has been quite a year for me. I visited Europe for the first time. I had to wake my parents up to get out of a burning house. I moved into a new place. Those last two events were unrelated.

I had some of my assumptions challenged, and had others reinforced. I prayed beside the tomb of a dead monarch, and stood breathless in a centuries-old cathedral. I made artwork, took pictures, wrote songs, and came up with two ideas for novels to write. I decided not to run for President.

I celebrated the accomplishments and victories and highs in the lives of some dear friends. I wept with and prayed with others in their sorrow.  I made new friends, reconnected with old ones, and bid farewell to two unexpectedly. I am confident that we will see each other again one day.

And my loved ones celebrated and mourned alongside me. It feels mighty good to hear someone say, “I am happy for you.” There is an overwhelming sense of love when someone says “I am here for you.”

It’s true that sometimes you don't feel as old as you are. From time to time, you will look around and think, “An adult should handle this,” before you realize that you are the adult and you have to handle it. Old men still look at me like a kid. Younger people are more and more frequently calling me sir. This year, a hostess in a restaurant told me that I reminded her of an old photo of her grandfather as a young man. And although I’ve had gray hair for quite a while, it is starting to show up in pictures. I rather like that.

In some of the best ways, I still feel like a kid. The full moon still stops me in my tracks. Looney Toons still make laugh. Calvin and Hobbes still brings me joy. Superman still inspires me. I still talk to my parents every day, and my sisters and brother still call me by the nicknames they gave me as a kid.

My faith in Christ continues to sustain me; it isn’t always easy. A lot about my life up to this point causes me to scratch my head. Am I where I ought to be? In my headed in the right direction? Will I ever get where I am going? But In 36 years I have learned that you never really arrive anywhere, and that’s okay. When I was 18, where I thought I’d be at 25 is not where I was when I turned 25. At 25, I was sure I knew where I’d be at 30, and when I was 30, that wasn't the case, either. By now, I have learned that it is good to have lofty goals, but it is best to make loose plans.

Yet I believe that Christ is as pleased with our searching as much as He is with our finding. Because in every moment that we search, our eyes are opened to new things that we might miss if we immediately found what we were looking for. And Christ is in those moments of searching, of yearning, and even of frustration. It is there that we hear whispers in the thunder, because the harder we look, the more faith we have to have; the more faith we have, the more likely we are to see what Christ has been trying to show us all along.

I have no idea what the next year brings, or what to even expect. This past year certainly had some surprises. There will be good days, and there will be bad days. But the last year has taught me that no matter kind of day I am having, there is a Christ who has saved me, there are people around who love me, and there is always something new to create. I can count on that much, and so I will.

Here’s to 36. On with the journey, whatever befall.


For more reflections on getting older, check out Thirty Five Things I've Learned, posted on my 35th birthday. If you like what you've read, then feel free to share! Y'all take care, and be good to one another.



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