Am I the only one who finds birthdays minorly depressing? They feel more like sad-days than birth-days. But that’s not how you’re supposed to feel, is it? You’re supposed to say very evolved things like, “I don’t mind that I’m getting older, it just means that I have another year of life experience and wisdom under me,” or, “I feel so grateful to be alive,” or “I’ve grown so much this year so I am fulfilled in that knowledge.”
Like I said, very evolved.
I find myself saying, “I don’t like getting older,” and “Instead of becoming wiser in some ways I think I might just be getting dumber,” and “each year it just gets harder to discard cynicism and pick up optimism, not a good trajectory here.”
Like I said, not very evolved.
My sister, who always makes me laugh without trying at all, called me on my birthday. She so humorously pointed out how if we don’t pick up the phone on our birthdays it is considered “rude,” like we are not allowed to be busy or in a non-talkie mood. She said that the irony is that all those other days we don’t pick up our phones we’re probably not busy and it is kind of rude, but on our birthdays we usually are busy so it shouldn’t be considered rude to reject our beloved callers, but it is. One more irony around birthdays to grapple with.
I think we’re all victims of birthday celebration indoctrination. It starts before we can remember. If we don’t make our birthdays a huge deal, have lots of friends over, and get lots of presents, it’s considered a bust. As we get older, parties seem a bit self-indulgent and awkward, so we become more sophisticated in our approach – dinner out with friends, drinks at a wine bar, sushi at an over-priced restaurant. And the years go on.
For me, I’ve gotten less sophisticated and become more awkward with birthday celebrations. If anyone tries to do anything, I mean anything “special’ish,” I practically have an allergic reaction to it. I just kind of want the day to go by quietly and stealthily, like Jack Bauer moving like a panther through a minefield.
Birthdays, for me at least, are just kind of sad. They remind me that life is passing by, even though I want to freeze all these sacred memories and moments in my heart. They remind me that I’m getting older, even though I want to be getting younger. They remind me that life will be filled with more pain ahead than the pain from behind, even though I want life to get easier. They remind me that I’m so so broken and flawed, even though I’d hoped I’d be better by now.
What about the other things I am reminded of? Like…
Another year where I’ve journeyed further into trusting God. There have been so many years before where I had no idea what that even looked like. But now, it’s coming into focus.
Another year that I’ve learned to open up, no longer the broken weed wilting in the shadows, but a growing flower opening itself up to the light of the sun. This birthday reminds me that I am growing more vulnerable with God rather than more hidden.
Another year that I survived pain and trials. I always question whether I will get through the pain, and God always, always, carries me through. He may bend me, but he never breaks me.
Another year that I’ve experienced the kind of closeness with another human being than I thought possible. I haven’t been alone on this journey, not even close. My husband has never let go….all these years.
Another year that one singular truth grows in strength. This is not my home. Soon, very soon, I will enter heaven’s gates, and home with God will be a permanent state. I no longer dread this, I still fear it in some ways, but my heart is growing in trust and hope that…
To die is gain.
I think it feels like a sad-day sometimes because it kind of is a sad day. We celebrate the day we were born. But the longer we are alive, the more we become aware of how this life is but a shadow of the true Life. And that is in a way, very sad.
So, here I am, traveling with my fellow sad-day companions. Here’s to another year. One step further away from the day we entered this earth, one step closer to entering our true home. Here’s to you….