Saturday, August 10, 2013

On Being Born and Growing Older

The phone has stopped ringing. The Facebook alerts have stopped coming.  My incredible breakfast, lunch, and dinner dates are snugly filed away for future reference, and I am basking in my post-birthday love hangover.  Today is my first day of being 36-years-old, and it's pretty awesome.  Awesome in an ordinary way.  Ordinary like sleeping in, playing in the sprinkler, working on a puzzle, and going to the library-ordinary. 

I love getting older.  Are you familiar with the "mental age" idea?  I don't remember who I heard it from (Lauren, was that you?), but the idea is that everyone has a mental age.  It's the age you are in your mind, ignoring the actual number of years you've lived, or what your body is screaming at you (like, "You are 112!!!").  Maybe I like getting older because I haven't reached my mental age, yet.  I'm 42 and my husband is 67 (or somewhere around there).  I know some ladies who like to say they're 21 and holding, so I guess they're 21.  Maybe that's why they hate birthdays and find it rude when someone asks their age.  Not me.  No way.

I love that I'm "middle-aged".  Done with the drama and angst of being a highschooler, college student, and new wife and mother.  There's still plenty of excitement to be had in life without riding on a roller coaster.  This week, all week, the excitement came in all sorts of packages.  My sister sent a gift early in the week, which tipped my boys off that it was my birthday.  She is usually sending stuff for them, so they were highly disappointed (and maybe even a little offended) when they found out it was for me.  But, then they went to work like little elves, wrapping up all kinds of stuff that was laying around the house and dragging huge cardboard boxes down the street from a neighbor's front yard, while riding on their skateboards. 

All wrapped in Christmas paper with lots of tape, of course, I got a painted board, a couple of popsicle stick rafts that were made months ago, a Guinness book of world records, and a piece of cardboard.  The most fun, though, was to watch the 3-day-mammoth-effort in the sweltering garage, to build a cardboard house that was made to look just like ours (doors and windows in all the right places) that had two coats of paint and a paper towel roll for the chimney.

However, the best gift of all, was knowing that each one of these gifts was the spontaneous manifestation of their love.  No one made them do it.  They wanted to do it.  To make me happy.  And that is the best gift of all.  That whole "It's the thought that counts" bit is for real.  Especially with your own kids.  Because most of the time, they're thinking about themselves, and it's easy to wonder if they love you, or even like you, or even know you're alive (outside of the times you're getting them something to eat).  

Another thing I love is the way the world recognizes the magnitude of the birth-day.  There is no other day that we celebrate the value of a person more than on the day they were born.  It makes me  wonder about the possibility of choosing whether or not a baby will be born at all.  If someone believes that the choice should exist, they still celebrate birthdays with as much gusto as those who don't.  Why shouldn't they?  Someone they love has been born!  But, on one hand...the day of one's birth is Awesome!  Extraordinary!  Unrepeatable!  Worthy of Recognition and Extra Effort by All!  On the other's optional.  Holding these ideas together in a pair of hands is confusing to me.  Sort of like trying to put two magnets together that have the same charge. 

Life is a gift.  It's not always easy and it's not always fun, but sometimes it is.  And whether it's good or bad, happy or sad, it is always worth living. 

I have promised Peace but not leisure, heart-rest and comfort, but not pleasure.  I have said "In the world ye shall have tribulation":  so do not feel, when adverse things happen, that you have failed or are not being guided, but I have said "In the world ye shall have tribulation but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."  God Calling, August 10

In my thirty-sixth year, I am learning to wait on the Lord.  In the meantime, I hope to live with increasing generosity and joy.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8

Brothers and sisters:
Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly,
and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully,
Each must do as already determined,
without sadness or compulsion,
for God loves a cheerful giver.
Moreover, God is able to make every grace
abundant for you,
so that in all things, always having all you need,
you may have an abundance for every good work.

Dear King of Birthdays and Harvests,

Thank you for loving me into existence through my parents, and all of the people that came before them.  Thank you for a week-long love song, as sung by sisters and brothers, little boys, a husband, parents, and friends.  Thank you for days afterward to take it all in.  Please help me to cast off my selfishness and replace it with generosity.  Please give me the grace to sow bountifully and give cheerfully.  You know how generous my friends and family are to me.  Thank you for them, and their example.  Please help me to imitate it.  Thank you for birthdays and every reason you give us to celebrate life.  It is the greatest gift, for without it, we cannot return Your love.  Please grant me the grace to be ready for death at any moment.  Please help me make a good return to You on all that I've been given.  I love you, and I thank you for thirty-six years of life.    Amen.