How To Live Without Regrets (A Note to Us In Our Thirties)

“Patience and time do more than strength or passion.”

Jean de la Fontaine

I think it’s time for me to set some of my side hustles into the hard ground. I can’t help but feel like I’m waving goodbye to important pieces of my identity and burying my future alive.

Not a day goes by where there’s not some idea or project I’m working on or stewing over.

Giving up on some of these interests, makes me feel regret not relief.

I planted tulip and narcissus bulbs around the yard last weekend. It’s always an awkward scene. The garden has gone to sleep, all the frost bitten summer plants are laying in the compost bin, the planter boxes are prepared for winter, yet there I am in my overstuffed jacket, rain boots, and gloves, and a bag of bulbs. My bag of hope.

It’s an overused metaphor to be sure, but the miracle of a bulb will never cease to amaze me. I cannot fathom how a flower emerges after being stuck in darkness, succumbed to months of brutally cold weather.

We don’t value this kind of going under, an intentional missing in action. Who of us wants to choose to dwell in the secret of the soil for a season, even more to find success there in such an ugly place?

Few people are familiar with the kind of life that comes only from a burial, a deep digging into the uncomely dirt of our lives, letting stillness seep into us from all sides.  

As I heard it said so well, “We are addicted to the allusion of urgency.”

We simply will not stop climbing the ladder of success, not for a second. After all, we argue, we are young and energetic, and this won’t last for long! We tag on Bible verses that we tell us we can do the impossible.

We much prefer, perhaps even idolize, the action of reaching for the next rung, for the sunlight, the spotlight, putting instant action towards our dreams, striving upward in strength instead of laying lower in softness.  

Frankly, I wonder how we in our thirties are doing it all. We have tender marriages, tiny children, and delicate relationships. You’d think we’d take a hint.

Yet here we are starting businesses, managing small farms, writing books, building houses, accepting speaking invitations, pastoring churches, traveling the world, and maintaining an active presence on social media.

All in the name of a vision, a dream, or making a difference.

I am running up against a wall, friends. Are you? There’s simply no more time for love.

I see it in myself and in my closest relationships- we are all doing too much, and we are all traveling too fast.

I am speaking to myself here first.

What if we waited for our kids to graduate highschool before we write a book or launch the business? I heard someone say this once about the book he was writing, and I wanted to scream- shows you what I thought about that. Heaven forbid, my children stop me from doing what I want to do, when I want to do it.

Can we take our intensity and drive it down a few notches, take some skin out of the game? I honestly don’t know if I can, but I want to, I need to.

I want to live with the wisdom and pace of a seventy-five year old in my thirties- generatively and generously, moving thoughtfully and carefully through my days so I can care for the people across my path and the place beneath my feet.

Is it time to admit we are doing too much in this season? Maybe flourishing in our thirties looks like letting most of our beautiful ambitions become bulbs that surprise us later.

Could we dare to walk through our thirties with an awkward bag of hope that someday will actually come and we’re not being lazy or procrastinating?  

Could we redefine success right now as slowing down, laying low, and doing less with more love?

Could this be what it means to live with no regrets?

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