A week ago today, I turned 29.
A couple days before my birthday I stopped and looked at J and said, "Babe, I'm entering my last year before 30. I can't believe it." I didn't say it out of a fear of turning 30, I am excited about getting older! I said it out of a genuine disbelief that I have almost 3 decades of life under my belt and, wow, what a sweet life it has been. It was one of those moments where you take a step back and, in an sort of out of body way, you see your life in an instant. And in that instant, I felt so grateful.
This last year of life was a tough one, though. 28 will definitely be marked by "hard" in my memory book. Good hard and just plain not fun hard. There was a lot of stripping down of myself that happened and that is a painful process. It was a year that flattened me, in a sense, and trust me, I surely did not want to be flattened, but praise God He knows what I need because the sweetest joy laid waiting for me on the other side.
A deep-rooted selfishness was uprooted. More of that consuming fear of man struggle came to the surface. Tendencies of laziness and greed were seen for what they really are. Deeper layers of distrust and unbelief and crippling fear were peeled back. So many pieces of yuck, so many things that I didn't even realize were debilitating me and robbing me of joy, or at least to what extent they were. And there were many times in the moments of discovering these things were I felt exhausted by discouragement. When I had lost my temper with AK...again, when I wasted time lazily scrolling through my phone while much better things sat wanting....again, when I pushed back on wise words that J spoke to me because my pride was hurt....again, when I compared..again, when I doubted whether we would ever find a house....again, when I wondered if our Little would ever be able to hear laughter without crying....again, when I just wanted to stay in bed for days and cry because the ache for another baby was so deep....again. I felt flattened. Flattened by my sin, flattened by the stuff that was just painfully hard.
I know this is sounding like a super uplifting post right now, but this was last year. It rubbed me raw. It was a fight, in some seasons a daily one, for gratitude, for hope, for "being content in whatever circumstance" I was. So many times I wanted different circumstances, I just wanted "dreams fulfilled". It was a year of coming to grips with what I want most in life, and in that, discovering how often the thing I was saying I wanted the most had everything to do with me and nothing to do with Jesus, and I always came up empty.
But, like the good God He is, He carried me through it all. He reminded me, "those sins you see? I died for those. Now you get to live in the freedom of my forgiveness." He pulled out all those file folders of verses in my memory to help me remember the truest things about myself, the truest things about Himself, and the truest things that define my everyday because I'm His. He showed His perfect strength in my weakness. He showed me His grace and helped me to know what it is to rest in that more. He helped me ease up on things, learn to be okay letting things go, and reminded me of the importance of margin. He showed me how He chose J and me to be AK's parents, not anyone else, and He loves her a whole lot more than we ever could, so couldn't He be trusted with her, too? He reminded me that there's a lot of sweetness to be found in waiting, there's memories waiting to be made every single day. And He showed me, over and over and over again, how He knows my heart most intimately and He is the most present source of comfort. In each and every one of those ways He showed me that He's the best thing; living for Him, resting in the love of my sweet Savior, brings with it the greatest peace and the most enduring sense of joy.
As I said, it was a year of good hard and a year of just plain hard. And not a single part of it went to waste. And, because He is God and He knows just the type of cap that each season of life needs, He showed Himself again. I woke up on my 29th birthday and discovered that there would be no baby this month either. To be honest, I didn't really know what to feel in that moment, but the Lord gave me a quick answer for that. My phone started dinging with text after text of the kindest and most gracious words. My phone rang as my parents and in-loves called and I heard their sweet voices on the other end. FaceTime sounded and I saw 5 of my most favorite faces in all the land, my big brother and sis-in-love and 3 nephews, and they brought the biggest smiles. One of my dearest friends showed up at my door, and she gives the greatest hugs. I read the most generous, humbling words written on instagram posts and a blog that left thankful tear-streaks. I opened cards and was handed beautiful flowers and had packages arrive in the mail. And my people, my two dearest and best, they went above and beyond. They showed me love in the most tender, thoughtful ways. That day literally overflowed with the clearest presence of grace and a love that I cannot possibly fathom the depths of.
28, I am glad to close your chapter, but I am thankful for the hardness of you and the fringes of beauty. And 29, my arms are wide open, eager and ready for the pages the Lord has already formed to fill you with. Let's do this thing.