Updated: Jul 2, 2019
When I am an old woman (whatever age one is considered old), what I most want is to be a "hoot." Like, when I've spent time with my family or hung out with younger people, when I walk away, I want them to say, "That Amanda. She's a hoot." What I don't want to be is a Crabby Old Lady. And the thing is, I believe both Hoot and C.O.L. dwell inside me, so it could go either way. The good news is, I think C.O.L. is on her way out of my system. And I'll be so glad to see her go. A couple of weeks ago, I attended a women's retreat at our church. On Saturday morning, I was taking a Holy Yoga class, and in the stillness, I heard God speak. He said, "Stop being so careful. You're not a rule follower. That's not how I made you." Well, hot dog! I have always been an extroverted person who loves to have fun. Stupid, silly, risk-taking, just-for-the-fun-of-it fun. Like swimming in my clothes. Making blanket forts with my kids. Eating cupcakes for breakfast. Jumping off piers. Getting a small tattoo on my ankle. Trying things that people think I won't be good at (like today, I got to drive my friend Eric's golf cart through the neighborhood, which my husband has always thought was a bad idea. Ha ha! I showed him!)
But as a child, I also carried a lot weight. People always thought I was old for my age, wise for my age. But internally, I didn't feel wise. I just felt burdened -- with pleasing people, with guilt, with puzzling out how the universe worked. I tried to be good, even when I really didn't want to. I followed a lot of rules. I took on the feelings of others. I carried daily loads that weren't mine. I got frustrated with people who seemed to be able to walk through life a little lighter, not worried about other people's lives, but just staying in their own lane. I was really jealous of people like that. And there was sown the seed of Crabby Old Lady, who takes away other people's fun because she's really just upset that she's not allowed to have any. But now, Jesus is reminding me of how he made me: and his intention was never for me to follow rules for the sake of rules. He's been showing me which responsibilities are actually mine, and which things I'm allowed to release. He has re-calibrated my heart for the last three years in an intense season of recovery and self-discovery -- in such a way that I feel like I'm getting younger. I was an old 11 year old. Now I'm a young 41 year old. Yesterday I taught a Bible study to 150 women on the subject of healing, and the fact that if we're not dead, God's not done with us. Most of the women in the room are 20-30 years older than me. And I taught with joy on my current favorite passage of the Bible: Psalm 103. "Praise the Lord, my soul and forget not his benefits...who satisfies your soul with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagles." I taught it while wearing a pair of yellow ostrich cowgirl boots I bought myself for my 41st birthday, only realizing when I got home that they had eagles stitched on them. They are now my "Renewed Youth Eagle Boots." I told the story to this room full of "older" women, and they loved it. So much so that the leader declared next week to be "Boot Tuesday," and anyone who has boots is supposed to wear them, "because Jesus is making us younger." We will be a room full of Hoots. Not a Crabby Old Lady in sight. And I'm so happy today. Because God renewing my youth with good things. With golf cart rides and watching my daughter's Halloween party. With yellow boots and yellow cupcakes. With the silly fun that my heart craves. With purpose and calling, and Jesus' yoke, which is light. I teach a lot on hard subjects, and I work with women who are struggling with deep, painful issues of the heart. But I bring the childlike self along with me into those situations, too, because that's a fundamental part of me. And I pray that if ever I leave a room and someone thinks, "that Amanda is a hoot," they will see, above all else, the good thing that God has done.