Birthday Reflections

I was recently asked what my biggest fear was. For me that’s an easy answer because it’s actually what drives me. My biggest fear is standing before God at the end of my life, having Him show me – in detail, like a movie reel – the life He had planned for me but wasn’t able to give me because I kept trying to do things my own way. I’ve seen it play out in my dreams and it’s what pushes me to keep going, to keep loving people even when they’re hard to love – including and primarily the person I see in the mirror. This vision for where God wants to take me is what motivates me to get up and pursue my purpose every day.

I’d like to say I’ve lived a lot in these last 3 decades. And I’d like to hope I’ve learned some things along the way. We live in a world where we try to show the beauty and hide the scars. But I like the scars. They are proof of my resilience, my strength & God’s hand through it all. It’s taken the growth & the setbacks, the opportunities & the challenges, the hope & the disappointment, the joy & heartbreak, the breakdown to the breakthrough… to become who I’ve become. And I know I still have so much more to learn, so much more fullness to grow into.

It took falling in love with someone who had the world in the palm of his hands – and still wasn’t satisfied, still wasn’t fulfilled – to realize that money, fame & power truly cannot fulfill you and can actually serve to drain you. That I’d rather build a life with someone who wants to build with me than step into the life someone else has already built. That you can always make more money, but you can never buy more time. It took hospital stays and brokenness, surgeries and recoveries to realize I don’t have to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders alone, and that what’s impossible to human beings is nothing to God.

Through the years, I’ve learned to say yes to living a full life because experiences and memories last longer than anything money can buy. That “boring” to some is peaceful to others and literally stopping to smell the roses is never a waste of time. I’ve come to believe that travel is one of the best educations you can get. That bridging the gap between people will require that we get outside of our comfort zones. That people who may not look like you or speak like you or live like you are really not so different from you, at the core of who they are. That the world is such a beautiful place if you choose to look for the beauty. And that no matter how exotic the destination, there is still nothing like coming home.

I’ve learned that sometimes the best solution to a problem is just a shoulder and an ear. That everyone has a God sized story that deserves to be heard. That admitting fault or flaws is an act of bravery, not of weakness. And that one of the most cowardly things a person can do is refuse to acknowledge someone else’s life experience as valid simply because it’s different from one’s own. I’ve learned that reciprocity is hard to come by, people are inherently selfish (myself included) & genuine friendship is something to treasure. I’ve learned that empathy and compassion are rare but not impossible to find. They’re just sometimes hidden where you least expect them. And that caring so deeply for humanity is a gift even when the weight of it can sometimes feel like a curse.

I’ve learned that the love of a mother is one of the strongest forces on earth & that forgiveness requries deeper roots than some people are ever forced to see. I’ve come to believe that God intentionally created fathers the way that He did so that we would search for HIM to fill the holes that human beings were never intended to fill. I’ve come to believe that we have to fervently protect our daughters. That in a world constantly trying to break them, to make them feel inadequate – too much of this and too little of that – we have to remind them of their power, their purpose, their value.

I’ve learned that selfless service and fear cannot coexist. That saying yes to one thing always means saying no to another. That we have so much more choice in this whole thing called life than we often care to admit… because admitting that we can choose requires admitting sometimes that those choices aren’t good ones. And that people who are not happy with themselves will always look for someone else to blame.

I’ve come to believe that you always have time for the things you prioritize. That people can only love you to the extent that they know how to love – how they’ve been loved and how they love themselves. And that broken people who have not taken the time to heal will often end up breaking every relationship they touch. I’ve learned that two people can be great people and still not be great for each other. That every chapter of every story doesn’t require a villain and a victim; Sometimes it’s just a journey of passing through.

I’ve learned that there is so much power in the words we choose, but words without action mean nothing. That faith without works is dead. And it’s easier to act your way into healthy thinking than the other way around. I’ve come to believe that love is more of a choice than a feeling. It’s a commitment, a covenant, a promise to protect, long after the rush of the feeling has faded. And that truly loving someone requires selflessness and grace.

I’ve learned that you can never outgive God. That His character is always consistent, His promises are always true… even when we don’t understand the timing of it all. That the lesson in something may not always seem to be there, but God always is. That sometimes what we want and what we need are on opposite ends of the spectrum. That the blessings that come TO you are meant to go THROUGH you. I’ve learned that human beings are not yours or mine to keep. That a higher calling requires a deeper commitment. That not everyone who came with you will stay with you. And that sometimes people will fall in love with the God in you because that’s what’s missing in them.

Perhaps more than anything, the more I ask to see with God shaped eyes, the more I see how truly broken this world really is… because it’s full of broken people. And the only hope that I can find to rest assuredly in is Him. That we are called in Him to love broken people back to life. God is for me. And with me. Every step of the way. The more I know Him, the more I recognize how very much I need Him. And the more I come to realize that my path has already been written. I just have to step into it… The only person who can keep me from the life God has for me is the woman in the mirror I’ve gone through fire to become.

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