Today’s my birthday.
Over the years that has meant a lot of different things for me. Excitement. Anticipation. Disappointment. Anxiety. For at least a good decade (26ish – 36ish), birthdays seemed to mean little more than a reminder of what wasn’t. I wasn’t married. I wasn’t a mother. I wasn’t making some life-altering contribution to the world. I wasn’t fulfilling dreams or even taking advantage of opportunities right in front of me. I wasn’t fully living the life I had been given to live (this, I somehow just knew intuitively).
Year after year, I blamed the universe (and often God), for not giving me the life I was “supposed” to have…the life I even thought I somehow “deserved.” Part of that time, there was a veneer of confidence as I stubbornly tried to make my own way by earning degrees, starting a business, focusing on a career, building a social profile, etc. In the end, it was in vain. A lesson taken straight from the wisdom of King Solomon: I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind. (Ecclesiastes 1:14).
The rest of the time I mourned things I had never even had – the fairytale courting from someone who just knew that I had to be his wife, the struggle of early marriage as a young couple’s views and ways of doing things clash, the nervousness and excitement of bringing a life into the world, a daughter’s Prom, a 50 year wedding anniversary… Sometimes, just to make sure that God understood the grief that He had given me, I reminded Him, “While I’m waiting…You do know that my best years are slipping away.”
Ummm…what, Michelle? Who’s to say ANY of those years are YOURS? And Who determines best?
It was only when I truly came to the end of myself, that things began to change. When I could finally look at my life (and appreciate it!) for what it was and stop wasting time wishing it were something it wasn’t. Yes – I’m single with no kids. That means I can do all kinds of things I couldn’t do otherwise. I can go to bed early/stay in bed late, eat ice cream for dinner, set my own allowance, have practically unlimited peace and quiet (something my mother of 5 longed for, I’m sure!) and lots of other day to day things we sometimes take for granted. I can be a total nerd and spend my entire weekend power baking like I’m on The Food Network and Pinterest crafting like it’s my job! But more importantly, I can live wildly for the Kingdom. I can make myself available for extended travel with a job that I love. I can pour into relationships very intentionally. I can live without regret, leaving behind those things in the past and looking forward toward the future. I can share with reckless abandon the reason for this hope that I have (1 Peter 3:15) – because, left to itself, my life means nothing to me.
Now, I feel grateful. For every decade, every year, every moment.
Now, I will no longer wait. I will not wait for someone else to buy me Tiffany’s. Or to fill a home with things that make it “homey.” Or to whisk me away on mini vacays. I will not wait to take advantage of opportunities as they cross my path – to say things that need to be said, to go places that are within my ability to go, to invest – even in just a small way – in someone else’s life. Most importantly, I will not wait to love and serve God with my whole heart. I will not wait to be grateful for and to make the most of this life – that He has graciously given me.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “
plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”