The #10YearChallenge: The Unseen, Inner-Self Version
When my husband and I saw all the #10YearChallenge photos going up on social media last week we had one passing conversation about it.
“Are you going to post any #10Year photos?”
“No way. Are you?”
“Nope. The last ten years have not aged me well.”
We both chuckled and briefly pondered what happened to our bodies and faces and hair over the past ten years. My husband noted that it didn’t seem like we aged much from 20 years to 30 years. But in his opinion once 40 hit, our appearances started to, well, sag a bit.
And he’s not wrong. That is absolutely the case. Although, I think it was more of a sudden realization for him than it was for me. I saw all my smile lines and gray hair coming years ago.
It’s true. We’ve aged. And I’m totally confident that fifty-year-old-me will look back at this blog and think forty-year-old me is hilarious. Because fifty-year-old me will have even more to show for her age. And then, Lord willing, sixty-year-old me and seventy-year-old me and eighty-year-old me will do the same.
Paul’s words ring true in this #10YearChallenge, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16).
This outer wasting away is bound to happen. It’s part of life. Paul has a point, “for in this tent we groan” (2 Corinthians 5:2).
What is so hopeful and redemptive, though, is that our inner selves are being renewed day by day. Each gray hair and crow’s foot may point to physical decline, but they also point to spiritual renewal. And that renewal is eternal. The age that is seen on my face is a sign of what God has been doing in my heart.
These lines on my forehead, these sunspots, the lax skin under my eyes, all point to the faithful work of my Father in heaven. They point to momentary afflictions that he has used to to grow unseen things within me. The inward work cannot compare to the outward. It is far superior. It is forever.
The increasing wrinkles are transient, but the growing faith will endure.
The Father who is even now preparing my eternal dwelling and who has given me the Spirit as a guarantee (2 Corinthians 5:5) has carried me, us, the last ten years—indeed all of our years. He’s authored adventures and surprises and burdens and pain that have left their mark. The marks are both inward and outward. The outward ones will fade, while the inward ones will remain.
By the grace of God alone, in the last ten years we:
Rejoiced in bringing home our 12-year-old daughter from Thailand
Watched four immeasurably precious daughters age from 1, 3, 5, and 11 (well, she didn’t become ours til 12) to now 11, 13, 15, and 21
Baptized, discipled, loved, and cherished many siblings in the body of Christ in Okinawa, Japan
Learned of the heartbreaking reality that Mark’s mom had genetic ALS (and thus the chance that we will personally fight ALS again)
Endured three long years between bringing home our adopted daughter and being allowed to emigrate her to the United States
Grieved my mother-in-law’s passing away, but celebrated her graduation to heaven, from afar because we weren’t yet allowed in the US
Made the decision to go all in on a dream to share Christ in the very spiritually dark country of the Czech Republic
Moved our family of six from Asia to Europe
Learned the Czech language (hey, fluency is a spectrum!) and shined the light of Christ there
Walked our daughters through foreign school days and ways in Europe
Battled Alzheimer’s and Dementia with my dad by flying back and forth from Europe to Colorado
Made the heart-breaking decision to relocate back to Colorado to care for my ailing dad
Reoriented ourselves to life in America
Planted a church in the States, much to our own surprise and delight
Learned to live as non-expats and forged deep and wonderful friendships that we didn’t think were possible, right here in suburban USA
Stayed plugged-in to missions in Europe by recruiting and resourcing missionaries there
Wrote a book
Went from being married almost 10 years to almost 20 years
Gained a son-in-law and learned we will be grandparents very soon
The crows feet and gray hair are evidences of grace! God has brought us through so very much in the last decade. I mean, we’re about to be grandparents. These joys and sorrows and highs and lows have his fingerprints all over them.
With Paul I proclaim, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36).
For fun, I’m sharing photo of us from ten years ago and a photo of us from last month below. You don’t have to look too hard to see that while we were once an energetic young family, we are now happily settled into middle age. And for that, I rejoice. I am of good courage, I walk by faith and not by sight, for one day we will be away from these bodies and at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6, 7).
The outward #10YearChallenge tells of age and physical decay. The inward #10YearChallenge speaks of God’s faithfulness and renewal and triumph in our lives.
This body, these years, this story all belong to Jesus.