Today is my last day of being a 20-something year old.

It’s one of those big days that we in the cultures of the West like to put great emphasis upon. You spend your 20’s figuring out who you are, exploring ideas, being idealistic. Then, you transition into a real adult focused on career, family, mortgages, etc in your 30’s.

I’m not sure if that’s supposed to happen in one day or over the course of the 30th year, but I’m working on it. Having a child is a big wake up call in terms of personhood, the awareness of mortality and the need for responsibility (etc).

However, turning 30 still scares the hell out of me because I don’t want to loose my idealism which is tied so close to my own identity.

When I was 10 or 12 (maybe 11?), my best friend and I would make out these “life plans” that detailed our futures, careers, wives, etc. Mine went something along the line of going to Clemson then playing catcher for the Chicago Cubs for a while, retiring around 42, becoming mayor of Chicago then Senator and eventually running for President. It was a good plan until I blew out my knees playing catcher in high school and had to take up golf. Plus, I never made that move to Chicago.

When I was 26, I was convinced I would spend the rest of my life as an 8th grade science teacher. I was so happy with that.

Somewhere along junior or senior year of high school I realized I was going to suck as a business person and needed to find a career where I could be paid to think or do something harmless like teach. I’m still working on that plan now that I’m back at Gardner-Webb finishing up my Masters of Divinity and hopefully heading to PhD work soon enough.

When I was 24, I used a map on a trip for the first time. Don’t get me wrong… I traveled a great deal by road (and by myself) before that, but I had always just felt my way around since I have a pretty keen sense of geography. I would just sail into a big city and figure out where a concert hall or ballpark was located without much thought. But on this trip, something changed. I lost a little bit of myself on that trip.

When I was 15, I gave my first real sermon at my small country church in Mullins, SC on Youth Sunday. My topic was about the silence of the Gospels in respect to Jesus’ youth. There are the birth and infancy stories of Jesus and then we skip to Jesus as an adult with very little in-between.

As a kid with too much righteous indignation and not enough temperance, I was often frustrated with the church in terms of how the “youths” were handled and took that to the pulpit that Sunday with pictures of people we teens were turning to (at the time it was Kurt Cobain for me) and how the church was missing the (fishing) boat. I hope I never forget that sermon wherever my career path carves.

I discovered Dura Europos when I was 22. My life hasn’t been the same since.

Jesus re-emerges as an adult at age 30 after evidently spending his youth and 20’s “finding himself” and working. Even with years of Biblical scholarship, it still puzzles me as to what exactly Jesus was doing in his 20’s. Was he conflicted? Scared? Waiting for 30 to get into the game? Why did he wait? Why not give sermons on the mounts when he was 21 or 25? I always found great solace in the fact that the Gospels tell us Jesus waited until he was 30 to start taking “this stuff” more seriously.

Problem is, I’ve only got a few more hours before that solace evaporates and I have to go to Canaa.

5 Replies to “29”

  1. You'll have a lot more fun as a Bodhisattva than a Christ 🙂 Don't take it too seriously. Have fun and happy birthday!


  2. I know this isn't much comfort coming from someone younger than you, but think of it this way:It's just a number. You'll be no different tomorrow than you are today. It's a milestone to be celebrated and look forward to. You don't lose that hope and idealism just because you're 30. That idealism IS tied into who you are… just make sure you don't forget that and you'll breeze past 30.


  3. i know for me that i spent all of 29 thinking about being 30. especially in the last days where you are now. being 29 was a lot more scary than being 30. i had more fun when i was 30. the feeling of dread was over and it was what it was. i found myself really enjoying myself with ppl i was around and my family. i was single then, i even had more dates in my 30th year than my 29th. that's good stuff! if anything, i became more of who i am in my 30's than in my 20's. i like your observations on Christ. the time we see Jesus as a young man He is in the Temple sitting with the elders. He's 12 and working on His “life-plan”. it worked out the way it was supposed to, didn't it? And what the heck, you're going to Vegas in September!!! Have a Happy Birthday Sam!


  4. teresacaldwell August 22, 2008 at 02:48

    Sam, don't let 30 get you down, just wait till 40, it really hit me. Know I would give anything to be 30 or 40 again. I hate to even say this, I can't believe time has passed so very fast. In November I will be the big “50”. I could be your mother. Sometimes I feel younger now than I did at 30, at 30 I had 3 small children and a job at a bank. I was always so very tired. Now I am a point in my life I can think about myself again and I am enjoying it very much. But to be 30, even 40 would be wonderful to me. You are not getting older you are getting “Better”! You never quit changing, I am proof of that. Embrace the moment and don't let numbers of years fog your mind. Sam you are an awesome Man and so many admire you. I am working (as I write this) on a blog post about you, and others that have made a difference in my life. That is what brought me to this site, I am going to mention in my blog your different sites. I admire you tremendously. Some of the most successful people didn't get recognized for their accomplishment until their later years. PS: Be thankful you aren't getting emails and mail from AARP like I am “Damn AARP”.


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