Joyful, yet Painful Birthday

I turn 31 on Sunday. It's obviously not as a big of deal as turning 30. Most of the time, I have accepted this season of life. I mean, sure, the newly arriving fine lines and other aging signs get to me at times. And, I don't really like how I ache when I first wake up in the morning. But, hey, I have a wonderful husband and three incredible children. We are in full time ministry, and daily feeling God's grace and restoration after a long difficult season. I feel...fulfilled. Joyful, yes. Content...most of the time.

Some would say I am "blessed". And I am. But not because I have all of these wonderful "things" and because I have a wonderful family. In fact, for me, being "blessed" has nothing to do with any of that. Don't get me wrong. I fully believe and acknowledge that "every good and perfect gift" comes from God. And I am grateful...humbled that He has given me the gifts He has....but I see those as His gifts - not His blessings.

And I can confidently say that on this birthday, I am "blessed". But it has more to do with God's unyielding grace, mercy, and love in my life. I confidently say I am blessed, although, there is a deep ache inside me each birthday that no one and no type of celebration can ease.

Try as I might, it doesn't let up.

Only those that have lost both parents or do not have a relationship with their parents, would understand. My birthday is the one day, I can't seem to reconcile the pain. It's the one time of year, I can't seem to move past the loss to fully celebrate.

It's been 8 birthdays now without my dad and 3 without my mom, and I have not yet overcome the pain enough to embrace and celebrate. All other holidays and special moments, yes. But not this one...

As you get older, on your birthday, you tend to reflect on accomplishments made so far. You examine, take inventory of what you have done and who you have become. I think of what God has done in my life. Battles won. Victories gained.

Who better to share that with than the ones that gave you life? The ones that invested their whole being into making sure you thrive and succeed as an adult. I already look at my little ones, and try to imagine them as adults. I beg God to help them succeed and become beautiful people inside. I wonder at the choices they will make. I wonder about the battles they will face. I dream of who and what they will become.

I know my parents did the same for me. And I appreciate all of the well meaning words of encouragement that they are looking down from heaven, proud of me and of all I have accomplished. But, sorry, that knowledge doesn't take the sting of pain away. It doesn't dull the ache of knowing I will not get that birthday phone call or dinner out to celebrate.

It hurts big time. And I just need to say it or share it or whatever. There are some moments/times that despite all of the head knowledge you have to reconcile and overcome the pain, the feelings just don't follow or allow it. It's just one of those times.

So, am I blessed on this birthday? Yes, absolutely. I have everything I need to have joy, peace, etc. I have Christ and all He offers, and that is really enough for now. Am I happy and satisfied? Nah, I am human and I want my parents. They should be here...God's plan or not. And, you know what? I think God is okay with my frustration. He is comfortable with my pain. Even the pain that cannot be reconciled. He knows that we cannot be fully content or completely fulfilled until eternity. How beautiful to have a God that cares and so understands our weaknesses that instead of pushing us to "feel better", He just holds us. Not many understand enough to do that, and most are not comfortable enough to do that. But He is and He does. It's amazing.

Sometimes it's hard to understand how one can have joy and still have sorrow. There can be peace and still not be content. You can be blessed, yet lacking in much. It's just one of those crazy parts of a life with Christ.

On this birthday, I am grateful. Grateful for all of the beautiful gifts God has given me. I am grateful for family and friends. I am grateful for all the ways God uses me for His purposes. Most of all, though, I am grateful I now know what it means to be truly blessed. Blessed, because I am healed, restored, forgiven, and redeemed. And that makes it a joyful birthday...despite the deep ache and pain I still feel.