New Years Day is such a weird holiday to me. As are birthdays. I never seem to be able to grasp what to do with these days. They are for celebrating new life- but, again, what do you do with that? (Other than eat cake.)
It is usually not until about a week after the New Year begins when the newness of the year actually sinks in; at that point, I am also turning another year older in age.
The older I get the more the overlapping of these two beginnings is deeply felt and has become cause for pause.
Birthdays, to me, have usually been awkward. I love to celebrate others’ birthdays, but to have people celebrate your life? That has been awkward for most of my life. I think this is because I have struggled to really enjoy my life for most of it. I have spent so much time feeling… lost. Thinking I missed the boat or don’t deserve celebration. (I’m telling you, sometimes, it is really hard to live with myself.)
However, this year is my favorite birthday. Even better than my slumber parties from ages 8 through college. This year, I turn 30. Not only is it a nice round and even number, I finally feel here. I feel present in my own life.
In this gift of the present moment, I can look back over so many memories. Some are fun, some are scary, some hurt, some warm my heart. Honestly, most make me cringe- to look back at the person I have been and see so much precious time wasted in places of reserve and fear. I am constantly in a place of amazement over the people God has brought and kept in my life- they are strong people and have had heavy hands in helping shape me into who I am.
I also find that, in looking back, it is the scars that hurt the worst that usually have the best stories.
My scars are evidence of life lived. Sometimes foolishly, sometimes recklessly, sometimes dangerously, sometimes passionately, and sometimes clumsily; but they each hold a story lying in wait to be remembered – or shared.
My scars also carry proof of healing. The uncomfortable process required to move from a wound to a scar. The itchy, flaky, scabby and sometimes embarrassing process.
As I sit here and recount these thoughts while reviewing the last 30 years of life as I know it, I am filled with awe at how God has moved me to where I am and has allowed me to be shaped into who I am. Starting with the last year of stillness and grace and openness as I have never known, remembering a rich time of feeling isolated in Milledgeville with some of the best people I have known, remembering grad school and wishing I had used my time better, thinking back through college and even high school praying grace over those I knew and thanking the Lord for the ones I still do know, trying to tap into childhood memories that make me remember what it is to be childish in both heart and wonder.
My life has been full.
With each candle I blew out, I found myself unable to make any wish. I could think of nothing to wish for.
It is in the looking back that I see how far God has brought me. And it is in the looking ahead that I see how much more there is left to go. This leaves me in a present moment of gratitude realizing how much grace I have required and will continue to require. I am far from understanding this life or my God.
So how did I celebrate? A picture is worth a 1000 words- and I have three to share: