Somebody older than me wrote: “at my age life starts to take away more than it gives you.” I think graciously learning to let things go—youth, your fantastical notions about yourself, your kids—these are all a part of growing old well. For men, we also start to lose our friendships, if we don’t actively maintain them. As our growing responsibilities take us to different ministries, and even to different cities on church plants, the spontaneous times of hanging out seem to grow ever distant. Not being good at relationships in general, it’s not uncommon for men in their 30s and on to just allow once close friendships to wane. At the same time, our lives get harder. The burdens of
ministry, child-rearing and career all demand more and more from us. This is when we need to lean into our friendships the most, and need strength from one another more than ever.
So it was good for us older guys throughout our churches to gather for a few days last weekend. The snow football, as fun as it was, was ill-advised given the concussions, but on the whole it was very refreshing for all of us. The sharing from the 40+ brothers re: lessons learned from their 30s was invaluable. I knew we’d have a good time, but the flood of emails I got afterwards for arranging this proved to me that we really needed this time. I am glad that as a church we can fight the typical rythms of life, and togther pledge to stay close as fellow comrades in spiritual arms.
Here’s a sharing from one of the brothers.
I want to thank you for the 30+ getaway and for thinking about our needs! I was very encouraged and boosted after the getaway and seeing you and everyone back at
Willard. It has been hard for me lately away from Berkeley and I have been feeling a level of spiritual battle that I have never felt before in Berkeley. I started off this year with many commitments to God, a lot of zeal to get closer to God in my relationship with him, and to really try to pursue holiness this year. But right when i started, Satan’s been attacking me in my mind with regrets and things from the past, accusations, and I keep getting sick at the most inopportune times and growing weary from it. So this get away was such a strong encouragement for me.
One of the recurring things ive been discouraged about is that how come now i’ll be 30 soon and I feel like such a failure more and more in things like loving people. I wonder if this is going to be the rest of my life. I was so encouraged when you shared about this exact subject. I really resonated with how you said in the 30s you feel wounded and its
because of the pride and ego that makes us want to be something more by now, and how that really distracts us from surrendering and living in a way that really matters—a life of love and meeting others needs. I think im going through that transition now from warrior to wounded stage, and now I know whats going on! Rather than giving into Satan’s ploy of discouragement, now I can I focus on just obeying God and loving people, and not waste so much time on my ego. If you guys didn’t share this, I don’t know how much longer it would have taken me to figure out this gem of wisdom! I was thinking about last weeks DT and what about Xtian life requires us to need to have leaders to model and go ahead of us. I thought frankly, Xtian life is hard…my sinful nature doesn’t want to give up and satan is working to stop us. A lot of the commands are to persevere. So it takes faith to keep doing what God says and the fruits come in time, and may take a long long time. Its easy to get discouraged if no results happen. … from the 40+ guys of how they persevered,I have so many living examples to be encouraged by and examples of the truth of God’s ways played out in advance for me by those who obeyed. My trust in God, therefore, is boosted greatly! I thought how true it is when God commands us to remember our leaders and consider the outcome of their way of life. I am so thankful God has arranged the body of Christ in this way and for your acts of surrender and love, as it continues to strengthen me. I started to just try to obey this week and it’s been great. I called some old students I use to minister to try to encourage them. I talked to AL who is in LA now. I learned he is trying to start up DT groups in his church in LA but not really knowing how, and I was able to help him plan out their first meeting. It’s encouraging to see them grow and take initiative in their faith.
Also we heard the first praxis retreat message here where you talked about joy and feeling embattled. It was refreshing to hear that being embattled is normal and that xtian life is hard and many times there is not joy. I resonate that the joy comes in the midst of the pain, especially when you experience the islands of encouragement in the midst of the battle like how the weekend in CA was for me.