Monday, April 9, 2007

Monday Moment: The Birthday Wish

With the past, I have nothing to do;
nor with the future. I live now.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

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.

See, I am doing a new thing,
even now it is coming to light...
-Isaiah 43:18-19a

Monday Moment is a little devotional read to help kick-start your week. Hope to see you again next Monday!


Amber said...

I am glag that you had a good birthday. I am glad to hear that you are letting go of the past. It is hard but don't forget that you have friends on Earth here to help you, too! We are only a phone call away. Some of us have been there too! We won't let you fall.

God Bless!


Sue said...

Oh Brin, this is a good example why I chose you to win the thinking award, I will no longer dread birthdays, and that's hard to do being 40 something but your post was wonderful!! I do believe the past is the road to the future and no matter if we take a wrong turn here and there, it all leads us to the life that was chosen for us for a reason. I've made a wrong turn or two, but have learned from each one and no matter our age, learning to move on is apart of life at it's best. I'm so happy you had a great birthday and thanks so much for the best Monday moment ever!!

~~Mikki Jo said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful birthday. What a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing.

Patsy said...

Happy Birthday! Brin, With every door that is closed another will open, bringing on new experiences and making new memories for you to treasure. The only way to grow is by going forward and you can do this.

Marce said...

A very thought-provoking post... all very true, and I´m glad that you had a great birthday full of thinking ahead and just a few thoughts of the past.
I personally think we don´t need to let go of the past as is, we just need to learn to let go of the things about it that hurt us and move forward with what the past has taught us... sounds simple, yeah, right!

Ann Hilton said...

I have been meaning to wish you a Happy Birthday also! What a great time of the year to celebrate your birthday. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the past and the future. Its so neat to see how God has using your past hurts to mold you into someone awesome. I had a friend who went through a very hard time in life when her mother was unexpectedly killed. She has grown so much closer to God through it all. I am glad that you are making that decision too. "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Cor. 4:17) What's to come is way better than anything we can imagine!

~Becca~Bluebird Rose said...

Happy Birthday! I have a little sign I bought years ago that says "Forgiveness is letting go of the hope for a better past". I bought it as a reminder to myself to forgive myself, the hardest person for me to forgive for my mistakes.
Blessings to You on your birthday and always......

RoseMary said...

What a great post, Brin! Thanks for reminding me about the 'letting go thing'. And, Happy late birthday--sounds like it was a good one!

Betty Jo said...

Hi Brin, Happy belated birthday! I followed your link from Sue's Country Pleasures, and I'm so glad I did. This is a wonderful post, you are an incredible writer. I've enjoyed my visit. Drop by to see me when you have opportunity. xoxo

Brin said...

Hello all! Thank you so much for the kind birthday wishes and the encouragment. I'm not really sure what I would do without you, and appreciate all the rallying support and friendship you all offer.

(Becca- I love that quote! It needs to be embroidered and in my house somewhere. Thanks for sharing!) - Brin

smilnsigh said...

Well of course I feel awful. I missed wishing you Happy Birthday, due to my slowing down with reading in my Blogging World. -sigh-

But here is a very warm, though belated Happy Birthday.

And I'm so glad someone introduced you to Veronique Vienne! I love books by her. "The Art of Doing Nothing" "The Art of Imperfection" "The Art of the Moment" "The Art of Being a Woman"


Robbyn said...

A beautiful post, and so true.


and I hope your year ahead is full of fulfillment


Anonymous said...

You are amazing and I am praying for you.
God bless you ~