Thursday, August 22, 2013

Another Year of Life

     So today is my birthday. When I was a kid, roughly age 0-16, I would always get excited about my birthday because of two things: gifts and attention. Not to say that I was neglected by any means, but my birthday was about ME, and all the attention was directed at ME. And gifts. What kid doesn't love gifts? And ice cream. Never cared much for the cake, truly, but ice cream. Oh goodness. And cheesecake. I was an odd duck; since I hated cake I would always ask my mom to get a cheesecake instead. My birthdays were always days of indulgence. My parents would throw me the nicest parties, buy me the nicest gifts, invite my friends and family over to celebrate ME.

     That's pretty typical for children to view their birthdays as such. Age 17-21 were just sort of blurry and odd years. I was still thankful for gifts, and I didn't mind the attention, but I was too old for parties, and I had no interest in toys, and it's practically impossible to buy me clothes that I'd like or would fit, so I wasn't too thrilled about the gift aspect. Honestly, it felt a little bit burdening; why should all these people go out of their way for me? I know it's my birthday, but I don't want to cause anyone to spend a ton of money on me, or, heaven forbid, spend TIME with me, because that's just a terrible punishment that nobody should be made to endure. Why would people bother to celebrate me? What was I contributing to life that was worth celebrating? I don't want that kind of attention anymore, garish and OBVIOUSLY forced attention from people... Why couldn't I just sort of hide away on this day? I didn't get it. It was an annoyance; I wasn't worth the time or money. I felt bad for burdening the people around me.

     What about 22? Well, what about it? It was my golden birthday. I turned 22 on August 22nd. A lucky golden birthday! Wow! This time around I didn't care at all about gifts (although I received many thoughtfully-chosen golden ones), but something changed: I viewed the attention aspect of it all differently. Did I crave the attention like I did when I was a child? Did I dread and abhor the presumably burdensome attention as I did when I was older? No. This day of attention could be used for good. Instead of it all being about ME, I could use this time to celebrate with my friends and family, and share the attention. Right? Yeah, I think so. My 22nd birthday was really quite lovely, by all means. My favorite one so far.

     So how about 23, then? How am I feeling towards this day? Well, I was thinking about it tonight. What is a birthday? It's a celebration of life. The day someone was born. Looking back, when I was in the stage of age 0-16, I thought as a child; I was egocentric and materialistic. At that point in my life, I wanted THINGS and I wanted life to be about ME. Age 17-21, I had no self confidence and didn't think I deserved to even be on the planet. At that stage, my life was troubled with depression and self-hatred; I didn't want anyone to give me gifts or attention, because I felt I didn't DESERVE it, that I wasn't WORTH it. By age 22, my life had begun to settle down; I'd matured a lot, and I knew that I was worth something, and that something was worth celebrating.

     Well how about this year? I can tell you this: I'm excited to celebrate my life this year. Not excited to celebrate ME, mind you, but my life.
     The people in my life. I'm so excited to celebrate with the people that I love, and who love me back. Love is such a wondrous thing, truly. Once you realize that you are capable of being loved and loving others, life changes. It's a more beautiful and tolerable thing; to live, to be alive, to love. I love people. Many different people. Different types, different walks of life; I love people. And for the ones that love me too, I'm grateful for that love. I accept that love now, I know it's not a burden to love someone, nor is it a burden (hopefully most of the time) for others to love me. This year, I'd really like to celebrate that love that others have shown me in my life, and I'd love to be able to shower you all with my own love for you.
     The stories in my life. My life has been a rollercoaster. A crazy, beautiful, blessed rollercoaster. Oh have I got stories. Stories not glorifying to myself, but testifying to God's neverending goodness, love, and mercy. Stories of what God's done in my life. Stories of what God's done in the lives of my family. Many many stories. Some sad, some joyful, some hilarious, some heart-wrenching. All, though, ultimately glorifying God, and growing me for service in His kingdom. I had opportunity to share some of those stories tonight at midnight with two of my friends, right when the clock turned and it became August 22nd 2013. How blessed an opportunity to share what the Lord has done in my life recently, and is continuing. I want to celebrate and share the stories in my life.
     The circumstances in my life. My goodness, how things turn out. Everything that happens just seems to effortlessly weave together in some sort of mysterious dance; threads of life that have seemingly nothing to do with each other combine unexpectedly to make the brightest and most beguiling of colours, flowing together like two rivers meeting at a forked point. Everything does truly work out for good, no matter how awful it seems at the time. Life is so lovely, there are so many unknown aspects to it. I've become very grateful for that. Have you ever been perplexed by some puzzle, then finally figured it out? There's a moment of relief and triumph, but it's fleeting; you move on to the next puzzle after that. What if life was like that? What if there was a way to figure it all out? What then, after one figures it out? There's no next puzzle to figure out after you figure out life (unless the afterlife, which requires death). How dull would our existence be, going along in something we completely understand. Where would the mystery be, the intrigue? Why continue life when there's nothing left to pursue? God is the same way, except infinitely more-so. He is infinitely multifaceted. There is no such thing as having God "all figured out" in this life. If there was, why then pursue Him once we had discovered all of His wonderful aspects? How boring it would be! God is so good to leave us some mystery in this world and life to keep us on our toes, to keep us pursuing answers.
     The life I've come to live, love, and embrace. It's taken me years to come to the place I am now. Able to love and accept myself, able to accept the love of others, able to embrace adverse circumstances with joy and hope in the Lord, and most importantly, to accept the love of the Saviour. My heart has been radically changed over the past few years, and I pray that it keeps changing to become more and more like Christ. My capacity to love has increased so much, and my tendency to hate has diminished even more. My life is not my own. My life is God's; to love Him, to serve Him, to serve His people, and to reach out and love those who do not yet know Him. This is what my life is now. This is who I am. This is what I celebrate this year. I love you all so very much. My wish and prayer is that you know and tangibly feel that God loves you infinitely more than even I do, and that He loves you enough to forgive anything you've done and accept you into His loving arms for the rest of eternity. You, too, can have a life worth celebrating.

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