Celebrating the Years

I’ve never been good at celebrating myself.

I’m not sure why, really, but birthdays have always been…

Awkward.

Why is that? Even when it wasn’t about my age, I never liked the attention that a birthday brings. While I should be thankful for another year–another day to be alive, I focus instead on the awkwardness of being the center of attention.

Embracing my age, I don’t even worry about the years–I am grateful for every day the Lord gives me.

So while we live in an age that says, “celebrate you”, I want to celebrate the One who created me.  You see, my story is one that was born in the midst of heartbreak.  While I don’t want this to be a sad post, it’s part of my story.  One that defines a little of who I am.

My parents married young, and by the time my mother was 19 she was caring for two small children–my oldest brother wasn’t even two when a baby sister came along.  Mom had grown up in a large family, but was next to the youngest of seven children. So while still a teenager herself, married to a man she really hadn’t known very long, Mom was forced to grow up really fast.  From a country girl with very little in the way of possessions, she was now a city girl trying to adapt to a new way of living.

If you can imagine this young mom, a toddler holding one hand and a baby on her hip, life was full of love and laughter–and sleepless nights.

When tragedy struck, my sweet mother could barely hold on.  Nine months carrying baby girl in her womb, 8 months on her hip, and then she was gone.  Her death was such a shock and the only consolation that kept her going was the toddler who still needed Mom’s attention.

And so she survived.

That’s what she calls it.  Survival for a grieving parent means that you never really get over it–you just deal with it and keep pressing on to the next day.  And the next.

That’s where I come in.

I was born ten months after her death (after a doctor encouraging her to add to her family as soon as possible if they wanted more children).  She called me her “sanity child”.  It wasn’t until I became a mother myself that I fully understood.

And I grieved for her in a way that only a mother could understand.

I’ve looked at the tombstone of my older sister many times, and though it may seem presumptuous, I often think that if my sister was still alive, I might not be here. Only heaven knows–and someday I will get to meet her and will get the answers my mother and I long for.

In the meantime, I will be grateful.  God created me for a reason, and that tells me that I should embrace the opportunity to celebrate being born.    Psalm 139 says,

For it was you who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise you because I have been remarkably and wondrously made. Your works are wondrous, and I know this very well.  My bones were not hidden from you when I was made in secret, when I was formed in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in your book and planned before a single one of them began.  Psalm 139:13-16

Birthdays are funny things.  They can cause us great joy and great disappointment.  They can bring insight, hindsight, and introspection.  Celebrating the gift of life is always a good thing.  Recognizing that every day is a gift, and no matter what our station, there is always something to be grateful for.  Getting older can be discouraging–but it doesn’t have to be.  We choose how we see it, and our perspective can make all the difference.  I choose to see my life through the lens of Scripture.  He created me.  He knows me.  And only He knows the number of my days, so I want to make the most of every one of them and live in a way that honors Him for giving me another birthday to celebrate!

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