A low groan sounding something like a dying animal escaped from between my lips as I held the notice in front of me. My husband was traversing the room with a sandwich in his hand, in route to the television set. The sound was so pitiful that it stopped him in his tracks.
“What was that for?” he asked. He bit deeply into his ham and cheese.
I looked up across the dining room table and sighed deeply. “I just got an invitation to my class reunion in the mail.”
With a mouthful of food, he replied, “So? You’ve never gone to any of them before, have you? Why should this one make any difference?”
“You don’t understand,” I said. “This one is my 25th year anniversary. It’s a milestone. I have to go to this one.”
“Why?” He still didn’t comprehend.
“Because I’m now forty...some and I’ve reached the age where I’m supposed to be accomplished at something. Everybody who was somebody in high school will be at this reunion and they’re all going to be comparing notes on what important things they’ve done with their lives. Like...Pete Rogers. He’s a doctor in DC now, and Beth Markham is a news producer in Cincinnati. All of the friends I used to pal around with have successful careers or kids who have won awards and scholarships. How can I compare to all of that? I feel like I’m so far behind everybody else.”
“You mean because you’re an unpublished writer with a preschooler at age forty...some?”
“So don’t go.”
“I have to or my classmates will start thinking I’m dead. I’ll end up on the memorial page of the reunion booklet,” I whined.
My husband chuckled. “I would hardly describe you as dead. Sounds like you’re feeling some retroactive peer pressure.” He left me in favor of a basketball game on television.
But his words made me stop and think. Was he right? Was I still feeling peer pressure after all these years? So my life hadn’t gone exactly as planned. It had taken me ten years to finally get a college degree. I had started at the university right out of high school just like all of my friends, but my friends’ parents hadn’t gotten divorced a few months after graduation like mine had. My friends’ dads hadn’t run off with another woman, and my friends’ mothers hadn’t attempted suicide, and my friends hadn’t lost their faith in God and turned away from the church like I had.
For ten years, I had no purpose and no direction, so I went nowhere and did nothing with my life but exist and wish and regret. But that relationship with the Lord I’d had as a teen haunted me, and when the anger and the bitterness finally faded, the emptiness settled in, reminding me of what I had given up. Then the hunger came, hunger to know Him again, to walk with Him again. And it grew so strong that I couldn’t ignore it any longer. I gave my heart back over to the Lord and fell more in love with Him than before.
In the years following, He had set my life back on course again. I began to find all the things I had dreamed about as a youth: career, marriage, family—just a little later in life than most. But having lost those ten years to hurt, anger, and pain, I had also managed to gain so much more. Every day with the Lord was sweeter now. Every blessing from His hand was received with great thanksgiving and praise. Every waking moment, I was conscious of His presence in my life and grateful for it.
What was that I had thought earlier...my friends hadn’t lost their faith in God? Sadly, I remembered that most of them had never known a faith in God. Someone ought to tell my friends how much better living is when you know Jesus. Someone? Me. I ought to tell my friends how much better my life is now that I have Jesus living inside of me. I smiled to myself. Maybe I would apply a little peer pressure of my own at this very special milestone reunion.
Just then my four-year-old son bounced into the room. “Mommy, play with me!” he demanded.
“Sure thing, kiddo!“ Suddenly I didn’t feel forty..some anymore. In fact, I was quite sure that I was much younger than any of my peers.