It is my thirty-second birthday this week. That comes as a surprise to me because I have been thinking I am thirty-two for several months now. It might be something to do with the Peruvian habit of always referring to the age you are going to be next birthday when you are asked how old you are.
My boys had different reactions to me on the morning of July 1st as I ran and jumped on their beds shouting and singing ‘I’m so excited, it’s my birthday this month!’. Daniel (9) gave me a sly smile and encouraged me to calm down, wondering what all the fuss was about. Kaleb (4) was upset that it wasn’t his birthday this month and Joel (7) laughed and laughed and laughed. He giggled and shared my joy and he got extra tickles until he couldn’t stop laughing.
My family will tell you that I do have crazy moments like this where I sing loud to embarrass them all and encourage them to laugh, but they will also tell you this was an unexpected celebration. I am not normally that excited about my birthday. In fact, from about age 8, I would regularly announce that I was not going to celebrate my birthday this year.
It is not that I am excited about anything about my birthday this year either - we have no plans, I have no presents I am expecting as we recently replaced my keyboard, and Mark and I have no plans to go away like we have in previous years (our anniversary is the day before my birthday). Kaleb has a big event at his preschool so he can’t miss school the morning of my birthday. There is nothing to look forward to in itself and honestly I’m not that interested in being the centre of attention.
But something made me smile when I woke up on July 1st and remembered as a young child how excited I was when the calendar turned over to July. I was always so grateful June only had 30 days and not 31. That childhood memory brought me joy which bubbled up into excitement on the first of July. I decided to embrace my inner child and go with it and live out the July arrival celebration again!
I don’t think it was really about my birthday at all. Recently I have noticed an invitation to bold joy creep up on me which I have liked and embraced a lot more, rather than scorned. I have begun to do things and look to do things which scare me a little. I have thought less about how others will see me and shake off the shame of criticism. I have begun to embrace an enthusiastic ‘YES!’ to the things of God and the beauty around me. I have got to a place of trust with God, where I no longer automatically view His invitations and challenges as masochistic pools of deep suffering that have to be endured before breakthrough comes, but rather opportunities to see joy and Him in the midst of impossible circumstances.
So, age 32, I have arrived. I’ve made it. (Haha! I’m ready for heaven but I don’t think God is ready to take me yet!) No, I haven't arrived or made it, but I do feel like I am in a new season. One where I am beginning to see the freedom in saying ‘Yes’ to God rather than the fears of apprehension when He invites me into something. I’m not saying I am never scared. But if courage is looking down the enemy with a heart mixed with fear and hope, I am getting more courageous. I hear the Spirit’s laughter and invitations to ‘Come on! Let’s advance the kingdom!’ and it makes me laugh too and say, ‘Yeah, come on! Let’s go!’
So going into my thirty-third year, my prayer is one with the disciples in Acts:
Lord, as I embrace whatever this year holds - the joys and the trials - the persecution and the celebration - grant that I would continue to speak your word with all boldness!
Where is your heart mixed with fear and hope? What is God calling you to say 'Yes!' to today?
Loving Leeana Tankersley's book: Brazen right now as I embrace saying 'Yes!' to God this year.
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