The Year of 40: Tripping over my own feet

by Christie Browning

**Author's note: This blog series is a year-long installment which will chronicle the year that I turn 40 with some comical moments, retrospective insights and empowering calls to action.

I've been known to be a bit clumsy at times. I've got several scars to mark the occasions I've been less than graceful. Such as:

  • When I was in 7th grade and I yanked my ring finger off...yes, off!! My ring caught on a bolt on the monkey bars, severing it, requiring some serious surgery to repair it.
  • When I was in 8th grade and ran my hand through a window located on a back door at my church while playing a competitive round of "Capture the Flag."
  • The time I was sick as a little girl, running a fever, and somehow managed to stick my foot in a small tabletop fan, aimed at my body to help cool me down. 

My latest bump and bruise comes from when I fell down the stairs a few months ago. In a hurry to run out the door for an appointment, and my arms full of everything I needed for the day, the heel of my shoe caught on my pant leg and down I went. I fell straight down almost the entire flight of stairs. My shins took the brunt, hitting hard on the step's edge and acting as a sled for me to slide all the way down to the bottom. My face planted on the wall at the bottom of the landing. My to-go cup sprayed tea all over me and the contents of my bag we strewn at the bottom of the stairs. Luckily my cellphone was saved in the crash - thank goodness for a good protective case.

I'm sure we all have those moments when we lose our step, fall down, trip over our own feet --- it's a little embarrassing, but we all do it. 

I've been guilty of running so fast in life that I trip and stumble over my own agenda, my own to-do list, my own goals and gotta-get-dones. Lately, I've felt the incredible urge to slow down. No, I am still plenty busy and my days are still full. However, I've been guilty of pushing and running so hard for the future I thought was waiting for me, that I've tripped up and stumbled right past the present. 

If you've followed me for any length of time, you know my heart's desire is to encourage, empower and inspire others to embrace the greatness God has placed inside them, to shirk off the past and live freely as the unique creation God designed. I really wanted to do that on a large scale - a global platform - to a huge audience. So I built my days and my to-do lists around actions steps to take me to that stage. Now, I truly believe that the vision I have in my mind of being in a stadium full of women, delivering a talk that touches hearts and changes lives ... well, that can still happen. But what I've found is that I've been so focused on the future that I've missed out on the individual hearts I could be touching right now.

When I was a kid, I went to a small fair with my best friend and her mother. We were there really early in the morning to set up a booth that my friend's mom would be manning that day. Behind the outdoor fair was a large field that seemed to span for miles and miles. Fog rolled across the ground giving it this mysterious appearance and it invited us to come run and play in the early morning sunrise. As my friend and I ran into the field, we ran farther and farther, trying to reach the fog, but as we looked around, the fog was always just a little further up ahead. When we finally stopped and looked back at where we had come from, we saw that indeed we were smack in the middle of the fog...we'd been there all along, but our focus was always so far ahead we missed seeing the place where we stood. 

I found out I was doing that very thing in life...running so hard to reach what lies ahead of me, the future that awaits me, that I wasn't stopping to see what was all around. I missed decades of opportunities and it wasn't until recently that I stopped, looked back and realized I was right in the middle of it all along. 

Goals and benchmarks are still great, and I believe I'll always be the kind of person who is looking ahead to what tomorrow brings and what I can do to put my mark on it. However, I've learned during this year of 40, that I can't live out tomorrow before today is done. There are many opportunities to impact those around me right now, in this very moment, on this very day. 

This perspective, that truly comes from age, won't keep me from my clumsiness. My body will still bear the scars of the times I've tripped and stumbled. But my heart can take a breathe knowing that its purpose and passions will now be a source of significance, not a source of "never enough." I can rest and live in the moments that come with each day instead of running right past them, anxious to move on to bigger, greener pastures.


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