We've been in birthday mode at our house this month. My youngest turned one last week and my birthday was a few days after. My two older children were very excited to be planning and preparing for a first birthday party and going out to lunch for my birthday.
Somewhere along the years, birthdays lose the magic they had when we were children. We start dreading the day that rolls around every year, a sign we are another year older. We downplay the day, maybe fudge on our age. The joy of each year bringing new adventures and learning new things doesn't excite us anymore.
I will admit, this year I was not looking forward to my birthday. I didn’t want to admit how old I was turning, even to myself. In the months before, I thought about all the things I haven't done yet, the sleep I've lost because of my kids, the things I've failed at, the people I've hurt. My life doesn’t look like I expected it to at this age. To be blunt, I was discouraged with where I am and all the wasted years.
But after seeing the excitement of my children as they woke up every morning and asked if it was finally a birthday day, I took a long look at what those years behind me meant.
For one thing, the years are a testament of God’s grace and protection in my life. My reaching another birthday is not a surprise to God. He continues to show patience and mercy with me as I follow him, make mistakes, and start following him again.
I’m also not in the same place I was a year ago. I’ve grown in my mothering abilities — not without some failures — I’ve learned more about God through my Bible reading, seen answered prayer, and witnessed people changed. I would like to think I’m more mature but maybe that’s wishful thinking.
As hard as it is to admit that I’ve lived another year that I’ll never get back, when I looked at the attitude I was displaying because of that fact, I was somewhat ashamed. Tommy and I remind our children to ‘Do all things without complaining’ and ‘In everything give thanks’ and I noticed as February drew closer those verses could not be used to describe me.
Have you noticed when you first meet someone with children you ask their ages? The answer gives a clue to what they are able to do, their school grade and what they might be learning. How old you are is big news until you reach mid 20s. Then most people start to answer the age question with, ‘I graduated high school awhile ago,’ or ‘I don’t remember being that young.’ Suddenly our age is perceived as a negative strike against us, instead of the banner we proudly held as a youngster.
Well, I’m thankful for every year of life God has granted me. Every one of those 365 — sometimes 366 days — is a witness that God is patient and gracious and faithful. He has worked in my life and through various situations in every one of my years. Some brought more tears than smiles, others were covered in joy and laughter. But through every year God has been the unchanging guide. I’m no longer ashamed to proclaim my new age. And I am no longer disappointed with the haven’t dones and missed chances of my life. I’m challenging myself and you to give God our days and years and praise him for every one.
And by the way, I turned 35.
Photo by Thomas AE on Unsplash