I awoke another year older today. In all honesty I struggle with getting older. I have for a long time. When I was sixteen I remember getting a twisted stomach thinking about turning thirty, and here I am two years removed from the "dreaded" number. It is a silly thing, and it is not even a vanity issue. I just fear getting old. I do not fear death or heaven, it's the getting old part, the body wearing down, my loved ones getting older and passing on, my children growing up. But today I am blotting those thoughts away, taking them captive, and enjoying this moment where I am still young and healthy, energetic and passionate about our future. I am basking in having my young children and my loved ones all safe and healthy tucked in around me. For honestly this moment is all I am promised. There is no guarantee that I will grow old. There is no promise that I will make it to see a day past thirty two, so I am embracing today - this moment.
Thirty one was probably one of the most, if not the most, pivotal year of my whole life. The woman that faces me in the mirror looks similar to the one that was in the mirror last year (save a few more crow's feet and laugh lines), but my insides have been completely rearranged. My heart has been bruised and crushed and beaten, and it seems almost as if it has been replaced with a much more tender heart. The rhthym is different as well. I dare hope it beats more closely to the rhythm of God's heart, although I know I have so far to go before my tempo truly matches His. I am stronger that I was a year ago, but I am softer. I have always been a feeler. God has given me the ability to feel others pain, and that makes me an emotional person. But this year, I have felt like never before. Some days it was too much, and I failed to let God use me the way He desired to. But other days, I was able to live in His strength, and succeed in the areas He pushed me.
This past year was the longest, darkest, hardest, lowest, joyest, closest to Jesus, most wonderful year that I can remember. Thirty one settled on me during one of the lowest, loneliest, emptiest moments of my life. There are no words to ever describe what it is to have a child on the other side of the world and not be able to get to him. And until one has experienced it this will just sound melodramatic and ridiculous. I know that now, but at the time all I could see was my own palpable pain and wonder curiously how few carried it with me. Thirty one took me out of the US and across the ocean, for the first time, and it took me twice. It was the scariest and most amazing experience I had ever been part of. Thirty one held moments of absolute clarity, as for a moment it seemed the veil was lifted, and I could see what it meant to truly live for Christ, to sacrifice, to live out the true gospel, but it also held moments of selfishness, self-righteousness, misunderstanding, and an awful ache to just go back to how it used to be. Some days the knowing was too much, and I wished to just go on a little bit longer with not knowing.
At thirty one I held a little brown boy, with big brown, wiggly eyes, and a shock of black curls against my chest and breathed him in for the first time, and in that moment was given the gift of understanding, with a brand new vividness, my very own adoption through Jesus Christ. Thirty one made me a mommy to three and watched as I learned the true meaning of dieing to self, as I rocked my new frightened babe for months, some moments with no healing in sight, some moments so painful that they will never be uttered, some moments so priceless and powerfully beautiful, that they could have only been orchestrated by the hand of my Daddy in heaven.
Thirty one was the year of triumph and trial. Thirty one was filled with more tears, more hopes, more dreams, more desperation, more love than any year previous. Thirty one completely took me out of the comfortable and easy and faced me with some fears that changed the course of my entire life. Thirty one taught me that anything is possible with Christ living in me. Thirty one brought disappointment in relationships and deep scars, but it brought a greater intimacy into my relationship with Jesus. Thirty one witnessed my husband making an orphan child his beloved son, and my flesh and blood grasping their Ethiopian brother as if truly their flesh and blood.
This thirty first year changed my life forever, and with all of the ups and downs I can honestly look back and see God's hand in it all. Although I would choose to live it all again if I had to, I am thankful to have a fresh new year ahead of me.
My expectations for thirty two are pretty high.
Here's to topping thirty one.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20
My seat belt is fastened, and I am ready for the ride. So use me God to do infinitely more than I could ever dream up. I'm ready for thirty two.