Since becoming a mama, it feels impressed upon my soul that my birthday is not merely my special day. After bringing two of my own precious people into the world, the weight of what a birthday means feels even more pronounced.
I can’t help but think that my birthday doesn’t just belong to me. My birthday belongs to my own mama too. My birthday belongs to those who love me and celebrate me.
A week ago, on my birthday, I stole away to Starbucks for my free birthday drink, and to spend some time reflecting on the past year. Setting aside time to reflect and be with the Lord has become a birthday tradition for me in recent years. So, I pulled out my journals from the past year and skimmed/read through them, pausing to pray and celebrate as I turned their pages.
I couldn’t help but marvel at all the things I would have forgotten had they not been documented.
I was in such a different place a year ago.
I had a tiny, sleepy two month old baby, instead of the walking boy who gives me wet, sloppy kisses.
I didn’t yet have a rhythm for working out or writing, as I was still in the mess of postpartum life. I was afraid I would never find space for those things again.
I still struggled with grocery shopping, juggling two children instead of just one.
Spiritually, I was still listening to some toxic voices. I was still believing that my voice didn’t matter in some significant ways.
I’ve taken a lot of steps since then.
Each step feels so small, so gradual when it’s happening. In some ways, this year felt like trudging through mud. But on the other side of those small steps, I’m looking back to see all that ground that was covered, all the prayers that were answered, and all the ways that Jesus cared for me. There are so many things that the Lord did for me this year, many of which are too personal to list on the internet. But here are a few:
This was the year I fought hard for healing.
This was the year the Lord made me braver and bolder than I’ve ever been.
This was the year my friend’s life was spared.
This was the year Jesus answered my prayers for friendships and babysitters, in this season far from family.
This was the year I became an aunt to two precious nephews.
This was the year I said goodbye to one of my favorite people.
This was the year I leaned into my desire to be a peacemaker not merely a peacekeeper.
Psalm 71: 20-22 feels like the perfect summary of this past year:
You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
you will bring me up again.
You will increase my greatness
and comfort me again.
I will also praise you with the harp
for your faithfulness, O my God;
I will sing praises to you with the lyre,
O Holy One of Israel.
The Lord did make me see trouble and calamity this year. I had my share of dark, hard and devastating days, to be sure. But the Lord also revived me. He brought me up again. He comforted me. He did not forsake me and did so much for me, for my family.
As I sat in Starbucks, thanking Jesus for his many gifts and provisions to me, I felt that strong impression again: My birthday doesn’t belong to me alone.
My birthday belongs to Jesus. My story is his. He made me. And my birthday feels like a sweet invitation to remember and celebrate the work he is doing.
PS. Please know that it has taken me awhile to figure out that I wanted this to be a birthday tradition. It took a few years of events and fun without time alone to realize that I wanted space to invite the Lord into my day.
This has become one of my favorite birthday traditions; this reflection and remembering and celebrating of the past year. I haven’t always done it on the actual day, but always on a nearby day if there isn’t space on the day itself. My forgetful heart needs this tradition, whether it includes reading old journal pages, flipping through my planner, looking at my Instagram posts of the past year or just pausing to remember without visuals. I’m grateful for this way to preach truth to my own heart on my birthday.