Ah, birthdays. They come. They go. Once again you find yourself in front of a cake, thinking of something to wish for before the candles ignite the house and require the attention of the local fire department. What is it about a numbered square on a calendar... and its requisite wish... that can be so significant?
I had a wonderful birthday! Many thanks to all of you who commented, emailed, and called. (And sent flowers. Brian, I adore you!) I awoke Saturday to the sound of someone knocking at the door. It was a friend with champagne and this book:
...And the day just kept getting better.
Yesterday, after all the Easter service hubbub died down, I found the book and cracked it open. It floored me. This little book is powerful. And as my birthday flitted away, I read, and became startling aware of the fact that I had been waiting for this day... this particular birthday... to begin again. That I had been looking forward to this day -thinking that once it arrived I could brush off past situations and hurts and at last move forward.
Why? Not to be too personal, but because I'm the type of person who can dwell on the past. I sit with my back to the future and gaze back into days gone by, thinking, Why did I do that? Or, Why did I marry him?? Or, Why didn't I have a better relationship with my parent/sibling/friend? Or, Why didn't I do ____ with my life? And though these thoughts nibble at my soul, I refuse to turn my back to the past. Instead, I squish my eyes together tightly for a time and block it out. Because surely to turn around and face my future would mean giving up on my past. Would mean leaving it as it is... with all its failures and inadequacies and heartbreaks... with no do-overs or re-writes. It would mean letting go.
This book ... The Art of Growing Up... says this letting-go problem is a natural tendency. After all, while a child can grip things almost from birth, she's almost 9 months old before she learns to release her grip. So our parents try to teach us, as best they can, the art of letting go. Of moving along. They teach us to say "bye-bye" early on. They teach us to wave goodbye.They try to teach us, but the mastery of the lesson is up to us.
A bit farther through the book, The Art of Growing Up talks about birthday wishes. About how, as we age, we should be specific about what we wish for. It mentions wishes of: a good relationship with your children. It mentions more personal discipline. And toward the bottom, it mentions: the courage to give up the past.
I turned a year older yesterday, and though my candles were already long blown out, I squished my eyes together right then and prayed. I prayed, Lord, give me the courage to give up my past. Give me the strength to turn around and face the future You have for me. Give me the discipline to live for today... not for the people or situations of yesterday....
The phone rang. It was my Dad. "Hey, how about your mother and I come over and do some electrical wiring?"
As it grew dark, my Mom, Dad and I pulled out old 1930s wiring and rewired the study at Freeman House. We laughed and joked and ate hamburgers and choked on 100-year-old dust and took Claritins. And as they left a bright and shiny study, we hugged. "Now you can move on to something else," my Dad said.
Indeed I can. If he only knew.
I'm glad my God is the God of yesterdays, todays, and tomorrows. I'm glad He is the author... and the finisher... of our faith. I'm glad He's a God who forgives and wipes away our past and has "plans to give you a hope and a future". (Jeremiah 29:11)
I am glad I have a God who can grant birthday wishes.
Monday Moment is a little devotional read to help kick-start your week. Hope to see you again next Monday!