With exactly a month to go to my 33rd birthday I thought I would post an article I wrote for my church in 2014. Yes I know that’s quite the head start! Can you tell I’m excited about 33? LOL! Dear reader, I love to celebrate birthdays and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for this one.
- How I see me: long-winded, sleep-challenged, friend, and unorganized
- How the Zodiac sees me: passionate, obsessive, unyielding and resourceful
- How God sees me: creative, wonderful (Psalm 139:14), radiant (Philippians 2:15), and chosen (John 15:16)
A few years ago I hit the big 3-0. I was flooded with questions about how I felt. Was I scared to turn 30? Did I feel like life was slipping through my hands? Was I nervous to turn 30 and still be single? Many women shared with me how they would be 29 forever or that it was all down hill from here. I can honestly say by God’s grace I was so excited to turn 30! I have been through many challenges in 30 years and God’s will and grace has been sovereign. Turning 30 meant I had 30 years to rejoice and celebrate.
There are many things that I am proud of as a Catholic. One thing is our rich heritage of service to others. My mother has always modeled a life of service for me to follow. As a small child I remember celebrating Christmas with those less fortunate and preparing extra space in our home for unexpected visitors that may drop by during the holidays that needed food or company. When I turned 30 I was so grateful for all that I had overcome, I wanted to share my joy with others. I knew 30 was a special milestone and a birthday party just wouldn’t do. Instead, I spent the day with friends doing 30 acts of kindness. One act for each year God has blessed me. My friends who couldn’t join me sent me money/items to help me on the day of my adventure. Here are ten of my favorite opportunities:
- Paying bus fair for a stranger
- Paying for tickets to a play at the Aronoff and leaving them for a stranger
- Giving the trash collector a bag of goodies
- Taping money to the vending machine at Children’s Hospital
- Delivering flowers to a parishioner’s home
- Delivering donuts to Colerain Township Fire Department
- Taking a neighbor out to dinner
- Leaving flowers for the nurses at a local hospital’s ICU
- Mailing thinking of you cards to random people in the phone book
- Leaving my waitress an extra tip at lunch time
Of course cramming 30 activities into one day was a lot. Some things did not go as planned, but my friends and I had so much fun thinking on the fly who we could give to and how we could bring a smile to someone. A lot of people reacted with suspicion, which I think is a reflection of how often we don’t treat others with kindness. There were many people who we never got to see receive their gift. The people we did get to see had such huge smiles on their face. It was such a priceless gift that I received in return!
Several people in the parish asked me to write a reflection on how I spent my 30th birthday. This month I will turn 32. I had the best intentions to do so and yet time got away from me (note unorganized and sleep challenged). So I take a moment now to stop and reflect on my current birthday. All of the positive feelings that I was so excited about in turning 30 have been mixed with sourness. Suddenly the anxiety I had not experienced in aging surfaced. I am blessed with good work that the Lord has called me to do, but is their more for me? I’m still single and there are many unfilled dreams I have of traveling, having a family, and more.
One of my close friends in this season has been learning about her selfishness and striving to be more Christ like and lay down selfish desires. As Christians, it is a continuous struggle to put the will of God above our own will and desires. Recently during the morning of reflection, parishioners were asked to share lessons they have learned in life and the people who have taught them these valuable lessons. I too was challenged to think beyond myself. Who were the people that have impacted my life? I was uplifted and inspired by listening to others share. With Thanksgiving around the corner and this experience on my mind, I was stirred to make a list of 32 people who I am grateful for and the lessons they taught. My birthday prayer is that I will put on my spiritual glasses and see myself the way God sees me and that I will desire God’s plans for my life more than my own.
32 years ago he created a unique woman who he commissioned to be His hands and feet. As I reflect on the past and get reinvigorated for the future there are an abundance of reasons to be grateful. I must remember that there is no need to be anxious or to feel a delayed quarter life crisis when I serve the Author of time who has ordered and planned my life.
In this season of your life who are you grateful for? What lessons have you learned over the years? Who can be encouraged by sharing the victories and lessons you have learned in your life?