Harry's fan club is growing, mainly because as he ages, his adorableness does not seem to wane. I, on the other hand, experienced a rather traumatic event in February that has to do with the accounting of time in a chronological manner. Yes, the dreaded birthday. I really was having a hard time with this one in particular and wasn't even going to write about it. I was going to try to pretend that it hadn't occurred.
But that's cowardly. We don't "do" cowardly here at Faith Fuel. So let me share what went on in my head and heart over the last week and a half. I tried to be plucky about this new decade and age category I was entering. I tried not to be so shallow that getting a year older should upset me so.
But it really wasn't the birthday that was getting to me. It was the fact that a year had passed and I had not accomplished anything significant--at least in my mind. Which is the place where age matters, really--it's all in your mind. That's where a lot of our problems are as well, or the magnification of our problems, I should say. In our mind's eye, everything looms large and threatening when it might just be a whisper of a problem.
I was not happy on February 21st, the day of my birthday. I went to bed that night and felt listless, defeated, deflated. I woke up the next day and things were still gray: the skies, my mood, my outlook. I think God had had enough of my pity party because that afternoon as I was driving around doing errands, I felt that whisper of tender inquiry, "What's really bothering you, Lauren?"
So I told God, "It's that I don't feel like I'm 50. I feel like I'm 41 or 42. I wish I could still be in my forties. That would just feel like I have more time to, you know, 'get there.' "
I felt like God was in a forbearing mood when He countered with, "So then, do you want to turn back time and go back seven or eight years. That would mean your son is back in middle school, having that rough year, and you would be without the church family that you're connected with right now."
"Oh, no, I don't want to go back to that season of my life" I thought. "How about 45 then? I'd like to at least be in my forties."
"Well then you'd be experiencing that delightful transitional stage with your son. Remember that period of time where there was a lot of yelling and asserting of independence and storming around the house and slamming of doors- and it wasn't just him doing all that??" God reminded me.
I flushed with embarrassment. This was not going well. I saw where God was going with this. I saw that to survive somewhat-trying seasons, you had to pay the price of time. You gave up minutes, hours, days, months of your life. But you also got the reward of having gotten THROUGH that time. And once you get through a difficult time, why would you want to go through it again?
I felt a sudden wave of deep appreciation for where I was in life, at that very moment, at that very age I was. It's not really your age that defines you anyhow--though society wouldn't exactly agree with that.
I think of Abraham in the Bible. "Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people."(Genesis 25:8) This is the man we affectionately and respectfully refer to as Father Abraham. You don't get to be a father unless you pay the price of years spent. You don't get to be a grandparent unless you are "full of years."
I want to get to the point where I can view advancing age, old age, as something that is GOOD, something that is a Reward. After all, ask anyone battling a life-threatening disease if they are worried about getting a year older. They want to get to the point where the possibility of living to "a good old age" is a reality.
And so, on behalf of them, and on behalf of those who are trying to get THROUGH trying times, I embrace this new age, this birthday I just had. This was my reward. I didn't just make it through another year, I completed a level. I passed some tests. I have made it into a new season of life. I've got a brilliant son in college who will be graduating in a little over a year. I've got a teenaged daughter who has excellent judgment and such perspective for a sixteen year old. My husband and I will celebrate 27 years of marriage this August. My mind is still clear. My dreams are still alive.I've got a lot going for me, even though gravity and the passing of time might defy my body.
You know what a birthday really is? It's a Door. Each Year that Comes is an Open Door that leads to many things. I turn the doorknob and step into a new year mindful that I get the opportunity to explore and question and grow. I get to experience the grace of God, and if anything, I think I see His grace more clearly the older I get. Hopefully I am more grateful than I was last year, more thankful than ever to be alive- because this is Life, moving fast and faster. I step into the flow of wonder and awe expectant and eager to live to a good old age.