I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well. ~Psalm 139:14
Today is my birthday. I am 44 years old.
Lord almighty, how can that be? Inside I am much younger. I am 8 years old, sitting at my grandfather’s funeral. I am 16 years old, kissed for real for the first time (not counting that kiss on the bus or behind the Mennonite church at bible school). I am 24, a college dropout who lives in a tiny room on the top floor of someone else’s house caring for their children 12 hours a day. I am 32, college graduate, engaged and in my first year of seminary- I am straddling the lives of being a almost wife/stepmother alongside student/pastor. I am 40, married, stepmother, scarred by miscarriages, disappointments and career struggles. Always, I am socially awkward and never really healed from the bullies- domestic and worldly.
I am 44. I spent today reflecting on who I am and how far I have and have not come on my journey that God set me upon. I contemplated forfeiting this life so many times over the years I can scarcely believe this is real. I was fairly sure that by this time I’d be more accomplished, more confident and have it all together. I was sure that I’d lose the nagging self-doubt and chronic fear of failure and inadequacy. I try not to recall the missed opportunities and wrong turns, but instead marvel at the unexpected blessings and the healing power of love. I think about my grandparents, lost to me at 8, 18, 32 and 42. I think about losing my father at 26 and making tough decisions in the years after his death- choices that drastically altered the path of my life, in many ways for the better.
I am finishing the night being grateful for the gifts my age has given me. It has gifted me with the knowledge that mean people never go away, but what they say isn’t always truth. I know what I am capable of achieving and what is worth striving for in this world. I know that my presence has had an impact on others; hopefully by the way I reflected Christ. I rest easy in the fact that God continues to place me on paths that stretch me and sometimes leave me broken, but stronger in those places. I delight in not losing my idealism; although it is clearer now and I am more receptive to embracing it and more realistic in its engagement. I am amazed at all the wonderful people, places and things I have encountered over four continents in 44 years.
I am 44 years old and I am loved.
I am 44 years old and I am blessed.
I am 44 years old. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Amen.