My birthday has always been the most important day of the year for me. When I was a little girl, I used to have nightmares that my family forgot my birthday. (They never had a chance to.) As a matter of fact, birthdays were often celebrated for days or weeks on end in our house. As children, our birthday is simply an opportunity to be celebrated, be the centre of attention, and eat our favourite cake to our heart’s content. As we get older, birthdays become an opportunity to reflect on our growth and achievements. They serve as a measuring stick on our journey of life, as well as an opportunity to reflect on the blessings we have received in the year past as well as what we have overcome.
Most often we look back with gratitude at what the Lord has done in our lives. We are usually proud of what we have achieved and look forward to what the next year holds in store.
But on occasion we don’t feel like celebrating.
Sometimes Satan stops the party.
We grow up with this Perfect Plan for how our lives SHOULD look by a certain age, and when we don’t “achieve” that Perfect Plan, we can be disappointed.
You should know by now that I am a perfectionist. The fact that the Lord has chosen to steer my life away from my Perfect Plan has caused me great disappointment from time to time, and I am ashamed to say I have allowed it to cast a shadow over a few birthdays. I often take it personally and have allowed the evil one to fill my head with the lie that it is due to my own weakness and frailties that I have not achieved all I set out to. In this way, he also robs me of the hard work I have been able to do and the abundant blessings I do have.
This was especially true a few birthdays ago when I reached the dreaded age of 35.
Most women know that this is the age most doctors warn you about. The age when your fertility and beauty suddenly plummet to nought and you are no longer young and fruitful, while your waist expands beyond repair.
I did not want to celebrate that birthday. I wanted to crawl into a cave and wait for the birthday to be over. I would set out to prove that avoidance is a remarkably effective coping strategy. Fortunately, my family would not allow me to wallow in self-pity, and threw a regal surprise celebration in my honour, complete with a five-course plated dinner, a tiara and black-tie attire. Celebrating the day saved me from missing out on all the wonderful gifts the Lord has given me. I was so focused on the one thing that wasn’t in His plan for me (yet), that I missed out on all the wonderful blessings he had poured over my life.
Last year was different – but the same. After suffering devastating loss I found myself in a deep, dark pit of despair I could not climb out of. The last thing I wanted to do was celebrate the awful year I had barely survived. But, having learned my lesson the previous year, I decided to celebrate anyway. I had a small fiesta at home with my nearest and dearest friends, which turned into a night of belly laughs and deep relationship building. Once again, celebrating the day instead of wallowing, built up my broken spirit and created new depths of old and new friendships.
This year we are in lockdown. In March and April, we commiserated with all the people who would not be able to have parties for their birthdays and spend time with friends, but now we realize more and more, that most people will be celebrating their 2020 birthdays in isolation. I am so grateful that I did celebrate when I could in the years past. I am also thankful that I can look back on the year and years behind me with gratitude and a cup overflowing with a blessing.
Even though we are in isolation, I am blessed with a house full of love. With my husband working from home, it feels as if we are getting to know each other better every day. I feel so privileged to come home to his comforting embrace and jovial demeanour after a crazy day in the COVID jungle. And our two fur-children are always so happy to see me when I get out the car (well Dory is, Daisy doesn’t seem to notice).
I am grateful that, although a lot has been taken from us during this quarantine, the situation is temporary. I still have people who love me, even though I can’t see all of them face to face this year. Next year we will make up for it big time! Even though we can’t enjoy a lingering afternoon with wine and copious amounts of food with the whole family around my mom’s dining room table, I still have a big family who loves me and prays for me daily, people who are proud of me and want to celebrate me regardless of what I believe about myself.
I am grateful that, even though I cannot be with my spiritual family, that they are still in my heart and I am in theirs. I know we will congregate again in a few months’ time and appreciate every opportunity to worship together.
I am grateful for this blog that has brought my ramblings into the lives of old and new friends and touch a few hearts I wouldn’t have reached otherwise.
Most of all, I am grateful for the way the Lord is changing my perspective, slowly but surely. I can see that my striving for perfection and self-criticism is robbing me of so much joy and so many blessings. My Father is opening my eyes to what he has done in my life, and what He wants to do. He is teaching me to trust in him with every part of my being, that his plan is perfect, even when the road he is taking me on feels like a detour, or sometimes even a wrong turn.
Every morning I awake anew with the desire to leave every part of my life in his capable hands, even though relinquishing control goes against every fibre of my being. Sometimes I pick my cross right back up after breakfast, but many days I can let it go until lunchtime.
I am a work in progress.
Please enjoy a decadent cupcake and a glass of (non-alcoholic) wine with me today, as we celebrate (virtually) what the Lord is doing in each of our hearts in this tough season.
Thank you for being part of my life.