Embracing My Birthday

I didn’t want to celebrate my birthday this year.

Recently, it’s been harder not to fixate on my age-related imperfections when I look at my pictures. Health has become a greater focus in my daily life. Office conversations about my weekends make it very apparent that I’m no longer in my early thirties.

When my husband encouraged us to take a day off to celebrate, I pushed back. “We are too busy,” “it’s not a good time to take off work,” and “no one cares about birthdays at this age anyway” were among my reasons. The bottom line was that I didn’t feel like celebrating.

At one point in my life, it seemed like everyone was older. “When I grow up.” There was so much to learn, to discover, to figure out. We could dream. The future was bright! We had our whole lives ahead of us.

When I turned thirty, I remember a friend said to me, “We’re in our prime right now. When we grow up – that’s now.” That was a sobering thought. We were in it already. I remember it compelled me to strive to be more present and soak in every moment like never before.

But as I move through the latter half of my thirties, it’s admittedly a little harder to embrace. It’s weird to look around and realize that you’re part of the older crowd in many of your circles. It’s bizarre that the people you see in the media – celebrities, athletes, or even up and coming business leaders – are often younger than you. And then there are moments like yesterday – with the news that one of your childhood celebrity crushes passed away by natural causes at the age of only 52 – beyond just saddening, it’s also depressing, if not downright frightening.

Yet, on the eve of my birthday last night, my husband reminded me of my own love for celebrating life and giving thanks. We’ve gone through grief before. We’ve experienced the pain of death. We need to remember…

Every breath is a blessing.

Each day is not a given.

And every moment – a gift.

Our culture is obsessed with youth. I know this well; I sell it daily in my profession as a beauty industry marketer. We worship youth. We strive for it. We empty our pockets to look and feel young. As if somehow, with all our efforts, we can find a way to defy the inevitable, to deny our own limits, to fight the outcome we are all destined for.

I’m guilty of it. That perhaps not celebrating my birthday would somehow prevent me from really turning a year older.

But as we talked, it helped me realize that denying doesn’t do much of anything. In fact, it is almost a disservice to myself and my loved ones, and even a disrespect for the blessing that every day on this earth is.

There is so much to celebrate. I have an amazing husband and partner in life. I have the most beautiful children on this earth. I have the opportunity to live and experience the joys of the regular rhythms of daily life. My family is well. I have, whether near or far, wonderful loving people I can call my friends. And I have the utmost blessing of all to be able to walk daily in the enjoyment of Christ’s love and faithfulness.

I woke up this morning to a sweet, sly look on my 4-year-old’s face, as he took a page from my book and said, “Guuesssss who’s birthday it is today!” It moved my heart to know that my kids are internalizing my love for celebrating life and loving people well.

What a year it has been. God is so good, and I am so grateful. It is a happy birthday indeed.

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