It’s a weird kind of day. The kind of day that you check the mailbox and you find a handful of birthday cards which bring joy and smiles and then (queue dramatic music) hiding behind the cards is the invitation to become a member of AARP (the American Association of Retired Persons). The gut check begins. I’ve not been one to struggle with birthdays. Every year has brought blessing and burden. Every year has had adventures of some sort that taught me valuable life lessons, brought joy, or expanded my horizons in this amazing world we live in. Every year has challenged me in some way, at times the painful, self doubt, you screwed up, no one likes me challenges and at times the “you can do this,” stretching yourself beyond what you thought you could do or handle kind of challenges that make you a better person. So another birthday just meant another opportunity to anticipate a new set of blessing and burdens.
This one, though, has hit me a little differently. Maybe it’s because all of our original plans to celebrate with friends in Boston over July 4th were disappointingly postponed to later in the year. Maybe it’s because I can’t gather with those I want to be with today for so many reasons. Maybe it’s because for the first time in my life, over the past year my body has started to feel older. I swear I think both my eyeballs and my hearing is slipping! Or maybe it’s just the strange funk and weariness that has settled on our world of late.
However, as I read the well wishes on Facebook, texts, and birthday cards, and as sit on the back porch and listen to the birds chirp and watch the chipmunks scurry, I smile to myself. I have so much to be thankful for. I truly do. While I may reflect on the fact that I have lived half of my life already and worry if I have used that precious time to the best of my ability, I do not take for granted how lucky I am. As I look back over my life I am proud of some of the things I have accomplished and gotten to experience. I am wiser from some of the serious mistakes and bad choices that I made over the years. I am blessed with a family that loves me, makes me laugh, and no matter what, has my back. I am blessed with a husband that has been an incredible life partner, sounding board, traveling companion, comedien, and, well, the love of my life.
So I won’t dwell on all of the “I should have’s” or missed opportunities. I won’t dwell on the hard times or significant losses along the way. I won’t dwell on all of the times someone didn’t like or approve of me.
I will dwell on the great privilege of how God has used me as God’s vessel to, in some small way, further God’s Kingdom. Yes, amazingly, through me and not in spite of me. I will dwell on the gifts and graces God blessed me with (as God has blessed ALL of us in some way) and wonder how they might get used for good in the next 50 years of my life. Or maybe how new gifts might be identified and nurtured and new Kingdom Paths for me to travel down might be discovered. I will dwell on all of the amazing people that have blessed my life along the way. Family I was and am blessed with. Friends that I have shared life with. Church members I have been blessed to serve and travel along our spiritual journeys. Communities I have been given the opportunities to live in and get to know. Leaders I have had the chance to learn from.
I pray that you will take a minute and reflect on your own life no matter when your birthday is. Set aside all the stuff around you you feel like you need to fix, address, or avoid. Name the things in your life you truly are grateful for, the people who make your life better, the experiences that bring a smile to your face. A spirit of gratitude goes a long way in easing the weary soul. And more importantly, it brings a smile to God’s face – the great giver of all good gifts. (James 1:17)
Now if you will excuse me, I must go ready the fire extinguisher for all of the candles on my birthday cake! =)
Grace and Peace,