Today is my birthday, and while I’ve always loved my birthday, today feels different. Today I feel more overwhelmed with gratitude than I ever remember being on this day. As calls, texts, Facebook posts have come through with well wishes and celebration I have stopped and reflected on the individuals sending such thoughtful messages. So many memories, so much joy, so many miles of life traveled with the people God has allowed me the privilege of knowing. More than I can say, I am thankful.
My 31st year was an unexpected one. A year ago I felt the word “dauntless” would be an important one, but I couldn’t have anticipated the adventures or the sorrow that would require the need for resolute courage. My 31st year has passed, and it was filled with wonderful journeys across the US, new career adventures, bigger dreams, deeper love, greater appreciation of rest and stillness, the grief of tremendous loss, and a keen awareness of my own humanity and frailty.
Through these last 365 days I see that God was in the heights and the depths. He was with me when I was a bundle of nerves 37,000 feet in the air (I’m learning to love flying, but the year didn’t start off that way). He was with me when I was curled up on my bathroom floor crying big, ugly tears during one of the hardest seasons of my life. He was with me when I was with crowds, and with me when I was hidden from them. He was with me when I felt like who He made me to be, and when I felt so broken, frail, and far from that woman.
In the wake of the lessons I learned during year 31, here is my manifesto for 32:
Breathe deep and live slow.
I am 32 and I’m only moving forward. I’ve heard that the years go faster, and I want to appreciate the now. I want to take more mental snapshots of the beautiful, ordinary moments. I want to delight in the mundane as well as the exceptional.
Dig Into Real Community
I’ve moved more than 10 times in the last 14 years. I’m conditioned to start over when I feel that I am no longer “new and shiny.” When my imperfections start to show, I want to run. 31 taught me to have more grit, to dig in, and to trust that there are people who really do want to love me and stay with me, even when I’m broken.
31 pressed on my wounded soul’s belief that my value comes from what I can produce; that I am only as valuable insofar as I contribute. I am a terrible rester, which means I run on fumes… a lot. And that is not how God designed any of us to live, nor is it the truth. I want to stop more often. Be still on a regular basis. Breathe deep. Rest, and continue allowing Him to speak the Truth: that my value comes from the reality that I am His.
See and love people.
I love humans. A simple moment with a barista this morning ignited my soul. There was nothing spectacular about our conversation; no earth-shattering moment, so to speak. But there was kindness, and a genuine sense that we saw each other with dignity, worth, and value.
I want to take the brief moments I have with people throughout the day and speak life, hope, value, worth, and joy into them. Whether it’s looking someone in the eyes and sincerely asking how they’re doing, whether it’s taking the time to hear a person’s story and pray with them, whether it’s a sincere thank you to the barista handing me my dark roast coffee…people matter. Period.
Delight in my husband.
Oh that man is gifted at loving me. Thank you, Jesus. It takes a strong man to hold fast to my restless ocean of a heart. Adam, you have all of my affection, and I want to delight in being your wife.
My obsessive need to clean my house can wait. My kids can’t. They’re growing far too fast and I am powerless to stop it. I will never regret giving them my full attention. I will most certainly regret not doing so.
Honor my health.
I’m generally healthy. I run, I drink water, eat vegetables… But I’m not as flexible as I once was, my right knee crunches, and I can do all of five push ups (which is an improvement. A month ago I could do 1. Yah me). For 32, I want to run farther, grow stronger, stretch more, and remember to take my blasted multivitamins. Oh, and I should probably deny my sweet tooth more often too…
Taste my words & own my thoughts.
My tongue is often too fast, and my mind is often too weak. I want to grow in slowing down before I speak; in tasting my words before I let them fly. I want to speak more grace, and less judgement. I want to speak more hope and less criticism.
I want to think the Truth to myself too. I want to grow in strengthening my mind, filtering my self-talk through what God has declared about me and over me.
Fix my eyes.
I want my eyes to be laser focused on Jesus. I want to intentionally look for Him in the moments of my days. I want to obey. I want to look for hope in the hopeless places, and have eyes to see and ears to hear where God is moving in the hard moments, and delight in the beautiful. I want to keep my eyes on who I’m running for.
And so…here’s to a new trip around the sun. Here’s the 32. Cheers.