Saying Goodbye to "Death by 30"
I'm exactly two weeks out from my 30th birthday. (Insert shocked emoji)
For the past year, the thought of turning 30 has evoked all kinds of emotions-- fear, joy, anxiety, sadness, excitement, frustration. I have been a literal mixed bag of feelings. This is partly due to a belief that I have carried with me since I was 16.
When I was a junior in high school, one of my mentors suddenly passed away. He was one of the first persons who I told that I was called into the ministry. He guided me through the development of my first public sermon and helped me gain the much needed confidence to enter into a new territory of serving God.
My relationship with my mentor, who I refer to as my spiritual Big Brother, was very special to me. As the oldest of three boys, I didn't have an elder sibling to look up to. I had male cousins who lived in other cities who were like brothers, but during the critical period of transitioning from being an adolescent to a teenager I needed someone to guide me through my questions.
He was there for me in ways that I will forever cherish. He was charismatic, creative and genuine. He had a young family who he loved. Although he was big in physical size, he was approachable which allowed so many people to attract to his personality. He was ultimately someone who I wanted to be like.
It was the first Thursday of May when I returned home from school to find out that my Big Brother died. He was only 30 years old.
I was crushed, devastated and angry.
How could this happen? For two years, I grew close to this man as he worked with my dad and helped him to achieve one of his dreams. I had finally found someone who I could trust with the burning within my heart to proclaim the Gospel. He understood me because he was a fellow PK (preacher's kid) who wanted to escape his parent's shadow.
I was angry with God that someone so young could quickly and mysteriously die, leaving a wife and three small children behind.
Over the following year, I shut down completely from building relationships. I was afraid that they would leave me like my Big Brother.
In a conversation with one of my best friends, I told her that after my Big Brother passed I had a dream that I would die at 30. I didn't understand why I had that feeling, but it became so clear that I have believed it for the past 14 years.
I have had February 2, 2016 etched into my memory as the beginning of the end of my life not because 30 is a death sentence, but because I thought that my purpose would have been served.
Each year as I have come closer to this milestone birthday, I have been on a quest to find the meaning for my life. I wanted to be sure that if I died at 30, I would have accomplished what I was put on earth for. So I worked hard during my 20s to be of service to others, to run with my dreams, to allow creativity to flow and to make decisions that would positively impact others.
Although I have not accomplished all that I have wanted by 30, I am not giving up on life and walking within my purpose. There is so much that I have not done. There are places that I want to see. I have goals to accomplish.
Instead of focusing on death, I am choosing to give honor to life by embracing who I am and pursuing joy.