My husband recently told me that he has seen maturation in my character with each birthday that passes. I sincerely appreciated hearing that since I rarely see improvement in myself; it might be true, however, because as today approached I fought the urge to cringe at the new number that is now my age. Instead, I have actively chosen gratitude that I can verbalize my age rather than have someone else inscribe it on my tombstone. I have also been pondering the hidden layers to my age.
For instance, in my thirty-two years of life on this planet (I am walking on a planet in the solar system, no less! That’s significant in and of itself!) I learned how to walk and talk, read and write, figure numbers, ride a bike, swim, and hike in the Alps. I remember our first computer and learning how to type as fast I could; I remember when we got our first “cellphone;” it was about the length of my forearm! I remember DVDs and CDs coming out and wondering if they could truly replace video cassettes and cassette tapes. And then Ipods replacing walkmans, wireless Internet replacing dial-up, flip phones being all the rage and now look at where we are! I have flown on planes, driven in cars, learned how to drive a car, lived on 3 continents, spoken 3 languages, and shaken hands with a former president of the United States. I fought and won the battle against cancer and survived being robbed at gunpoint.
Age also means a transformation in my perspective towards other people. I believe that every significant and perhaps not so significant occurrence in my existence has boosted my awareness of others’ human experiences. I know what it’s like to have a broken heart, to feel lonely and invisible, to be disappointed and discouraged, to question my faith in God and love for Jesus, to hope and hope and hope some more, to have the urge to cry in joy and sorrow at the exact same time, to be utterly exhausted and then feel guilty for how impatient I am because of it, to want help and be ashamed to ask for it, and to feel insecurity and jealousy. I know the exultation of the spirit that comes from having the wind blowing in my face on a mountaintop; the inspirational smallness that is felt when sitting at the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean; the satisfying exhaustion that comes from a full day at home with 3 adorable little people; the enveloping love from priceless hours spent with family; the awe when I am confronted by God’s faithful provision in the minute details of life; the soothing comfort when neighbors become friends.
In the process of peeling back the many layers of my age, I have discovered that with each passing year my life becomes ever more interwoven with other lives. The more I experience, the more connected I am to you..and to you…and to you… and to you. I can feel my critical spirit losing its grip on my heart as I traverse this unpredictable planet; pride is losing rank on my list of priorities as my energy is needed elsewhere. Becoming a wife and a mother have made the most dramatic impact upon my heart and mind, causing the greatest transformation in my attitude and shaping my character more than anything that happened prior to these newest roles. Why? because now I am truly living for someone else. Nothing can change a human being more than realizing that other lives are fully dependent upon your very existence. Now every inch and detail of my day matters to someone else, and I need to make them count. The result of this staggering responsibility? I turn to Jesus for everything! From the strength I need to take my next breath so I can push my baby out to the restraint I need when soothing a two-year old tantrum to offering my husband an encouraging word after a long day with the kids. Rarely are my prayers long and detailed; usually they are a simple, “Jesus, please help me!” But I honestly believe that it’s the remembering Jesus in life’s littlest moments that matters the most.
My reflecting has come full circle. It always comes back to Jesus. He created me in my mother’s womb and is my sustenance every day that I’m alive; in fact, that IS the very reason why I am on this planet. And that’s a very good reason to have another birthday, don’t you think?