So for many people, the idea of an impending birthday isn't a big deal. Some shrug it off, some revel in the excitement of party planning. I usually throw myself into the planning as a distraction, but as a writer I'm a natural over thinker. I over think the average event, such as which type of toothpaste to buy. (No, seriously, I sometimes read the labels on five boxes before I make a purchase.)
So at each birthday, I turn all thoughts inward and reflect on the last year of my life. You can imagine then, that as I close in on finishing an entire decade, I've expanded my usual week long diatribe into a full month. In some senses, I'm attempting to overhaul my life. I've been reading a book called Turning 30: How to Get the Life You Really Want. It's actually a really great read, and I wouldn't just recommend it for people with a big birthday looming. It's helped me determine the state of my life and what I really want out of it. So far the book has really helped put perspective on things, and I'm realizing that these feelings are very natural. Apparently most people go through this phase sometimes between the ages of 28 and 32. According to the book, most adults start to take life a little more seriously, or they try to milk out the remnants of their youth before they really have to "grow up."
Then there are people like me who start to question which side of the fence they fall on. I had a list of goals that I wanted for myself. I wanted to graduate from college. Check. I wanted to get my Masters degree. Nope. I wanted to have a stable, successful career. 50/50. I wanted to do what I love, 50/50. I wanted to be in a successful relationship. No check. I wanted to be considering or have started a family. No check. I wanted to own a house. No check. I wanted to have my debts paid off. 85/15. I wanted to have a better relationship with my family. 50/50. I wanted to take a vacation to a new place at least once a year, even if in the U.S. No check. I wanted to feel like I had given my very best to everything that I did. 50/50.
I look at this list, and I imagine my "ideal life" and it doesn't measure up. And so I've gotten really down on myself. I don't dwell on my past. In fact, for some of the things I've gone through, I miraculously rarely think about them anymore. It's just when I get into the writer's mode that I can't help but reflect on what lessons I should have learned, what things I would have done differently, and how I'm going to implement these lessons into my life going forward.
So, what am I going to do? I want to start thinking more about my words. That seems like a very simple place to start, but the things that come out of my mouth, my blog, my tweets, my Facebook, and my actions, ultimately represent how others see me. I want to be positive. I want to be the sunshine version of Miss L.A. that I ultimately know I am at my core. I want to leave this world a better place. I want to count my blessings of what I have, and not focus on what I'm lacking. I want to celebrate small victories, and do more for others, and stop apologizing. I want to read my Bible more often and pray more. I want to be a Godly woman. Because ultimately, I know that if I'm living the life that Christ would have me live, I know the next decade will be even more than I can imagine.
Do I want all of the things I listed above? Yes. I'd of course still love to have a put together life. I just know that God didn't put everyone on this Earth to be perfectly put together. He made some of us a little more messy and beautiful. He gave some of us louder personalities. He blended us all together in every color, nation, tribe and tongue so that we can wonder at his infinite imagination, creativity, and love. Because if He can love the people that are hard to love, why can't I? I'm hard to love. Why? Because I have flaws. And I sin. And I push people away, and I lack trust, and yet so many people still love me. And so as I embark on this new decade, I want to choose love. I want to choose it even when it's so impossibly hard to choose. I want to remember that I am not the judge, and that if I choose to look at everyone the way that Jesus does, I will see those "flaws" as fingerprints of individuality. I will realize that those fingerprints are just more reasons to encourage, and grow, and serve. Because only when the people in my life have faith in God, will they ever be able to get past any of the things that are truly holding them back in life.
How do I know this to be true? Because I was inspired to write this blog post. When I sat down to write this, I just knew their were things that God wanted me to say. And I wasn't sure what that was. But these are the things that I struggle with most. I hold myself to such high standards that I have forgotten how to love myself. I can't look at my flaws and see fingerprints of Jesus. I see things myself as broken, ugly, and bruised. And I'm none of those things. I may be knocked down, but I am NOT destroyed. God has forgiven every one of my sins and shortcomings, and GRACE saved me. I do not have to prove anything to Him. I do not have to earn His love. Will I show it? Of course, because true faith has fruits. A living thing cannot shrivel up and be forever dormant. If it is, it will eventually die. And so I will choose to bear my fruit. I will use my gifts. And I know that through study, prayer, and patience, focusing each day on what I can accomplish, while not dwelling on the past or future, I will ultimately be victorious. What will that be? Only He knows that.
The truth that I hold to the most is found in my very favorite verse in the Bible. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:9 "However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him."
If that isn't a promise of a wonderful future, I don't know what is. If my dreams are so conceivably wonderful, can I even begin to imagine what He has in store that is so marvelous that I can't comprehend it? That trust somehow makes all those broken, rough, rocky paths worth the lessons, struggles, heartache, and growth. Because God is ultimately preparing me and my heart for my perfect future. And I think that the realization of that and the peace that it brings will be the best birthday gift that I'll receive.
Now if I can only repeat that over the next couple of weeks. It may be tougher to swallow than I'd like, but I'll just keep repeating, "it's only a number."