*Birthdays seem to whirl around these days like a carousel. I swear I just had one, and it’s here again.
It’s a blessing for sure notwithstanding the alternative.
Carousels have always been a childhood favorite. They can be dizzying but once you settle into the ride, they are very lulling. And just like riding on a carousel, each time it whirls around a nuance that wasn’t in focus on a preceding revolution somehow pops out against the monochromatic landscape with acute clearness.
Carousels have a way of eliciting this kind of hyper focus. Birthday’s do too. As each birthday whirls around, I inevitably see things that I didn’t see or focus on before.
I chuckle when I hear the phase “50 is the new 40” or the new 30 for those who are more fanciful. For me I’m not drinking that Kool-Aid so quickly. Sure I feel great. I work out, maintain a healthy lifestyle, I am frequently mistaken for being younger than I am and my sense of wanderlust, discovery, passion, and curiosity hasn’t been high jacked with the ascent of age.
In my 30’s and 40 I didn’t have the same immoveable confidence, intractable self esteem, and well earned, hard fought sense of entitlement that I have now (yes you read that right). Today I am not a lump of clay sitting on a spindle waiting to be pinched, pounded, shaped and scored before I’m slid into the kiln to be baked under fire. But in those earlier years, I was. It was a rite of passage I passed right on through and thank God I am well on the other side.
Birthdays do tend to fill me with incredible thanksgiving. Being granted another year on the planet is indeed a blessing. God’s grace and sovereignty are as amazing as they are mystifying. My Dad, God rest his soul, passed away a few months ago. He would have celebrated his 77th birthday this year. God’s grace gave him those 77 years; his sovereignty gave him a new home.
The very nature of birthdays also makes me reflective, introspective and prospective in a surreal way. They forge a bridge between where I’ve been and where I ‘m going, yet they make me delineate where I am right now.
It’s been an eventful year. As I embrace another birthday, I am squarely connected with where I at this juncture of my life. I am standing firmly in my faith. I’ve had to; circumstances have taken me to school and put my faith to the test. I’ve learned a lot this year. Here are a few highlights:
The consequence of passive love is regret; as you live in real-time, love in real-time. I learned this when my Dad was ill. My love was quite passive despite the fact that love is a verb. Dad knew I loved him but my actions fell short. I blamed it on geography because he lived in Las Vegas. But when it was clear his health was declining rapidly, I suddenly had so much real-time love to compress in so little time. I did the best I could but not without regrets.
Give up the fairy tale; believe in the promise. This was a long time in coming. What little girl escapes the whimsy of fairy tales? The rub is those tales slowly morph into slings and arrows of disillusionment when they don’t come true. I’ve been there. But the promises in the ancient scripture are venerable and many. “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished,” Luke 1:43. I like that. And if believing is a prerequisite to the receiving the promise, I’m all in.
Our consistent actions shape our lives. This is paraphrased from Anthony Robbins who actually said, “If we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our lives. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently. When it comes to managing my finances this resonated in my soul. It’s my consistently lack of vigilance in managing and monitoring my expenses that was insanity. It landed me in the same place each month: wondering why I can’t seem to save as much money as I need too because of my unsanctioned spending. If I want a different result, I couldn’t keep doing the same thing. I had to change.
You have to endure until the end; everything yields to diligence. For three years I have been engaged in a war with my bank to modify my home loan. It’s been ugly and discouraging. I played the paperwork game, telephone tag and I even channeled my inner Scarlett O’Hara. The bottom line is I refused to give up and vowed to fight until they yielded. Finally they did. Now I can see a future in my home and a future in my community.
Thank God daily for what he has provided; thank him daily for what he has prevented. This was the most sobering lesson of them all. I had no problem in giving thanks for the many blessings I had been given. But I harbored latent regret and resentment for the things I wanted so badly yet were denied. In my mind I thought I needed what I wanted to make my life complete and stress free. However hindsight and the passage of time caused me to see through that dark glass clearly and I see the light. Now I thank God I didn’t get what I thought I couldn’t live without because if I had I really would be living at all.
It’s been a good year despite the bumps and hiccups. And the fact I can put another candle on my birthday cake is cause to celebrate. With that said, for the entire month of October, I think I will.
Veronica Hendrix is a syndicated columnist and feature writer whose work has covered the span of the human continuum – from clinical trials of male contraceptives, to the gang violence. For comments, interviews, speaking engagements or moderator requests please send an email to [email protected].)