Perhaps I’m feeling sentimental today. After all, it’s my thirty-eighth birthday, but I realized it was more than a simple concern over fleeting time or growing wrinkles that caused the tears to collect in my eyes. No, I was grateful, and as I thought back on the past eight years I realized today represented more than the day I was born from my mother’s womb. It also represented the day I was given a second chance at life. The beginning of my rebirth.
I found myself on my thirtieth year a thin, shell of a woman. Bags under my eyes, a weary body and mind, and a fake smile plastered on my face to hide the pain I felt inside. I wore a princess crown on my head, a birthday token from my mom, but I felt like anything but royalty.
I was back home, which should have been a comforting thought, but instead I was shrouded by misery. Newly divorced, jobless, homeless, and relying on liquid courage to give me a second wind. I had spent the past decade running wild, living outside of my true character, and trying to be anyone but who I really was. I was searching, I suppose, but all I found was more baggage. And at the age of thirty I found myself back at square one feeling quite rejected and like very much of a failure at the life I tried so hard to control.
Today I woke up earlier than I had to by a small voice saying, “Mom, I think I peed on myself a little,” and sure enough at the awakening I could both smell and feel urine. After cleaning her up and laying us both back down she quickly fell back asleep, but I could not. I lay in the silent room looking at the ceiling and thinking about my life.
The growing baby in my womb twisted back and forth in her own happy birthday dance, and the barely audible breathing of my spouse accompanied her movement. Together the symphony comforted me, and I realized that a lot had changed in the past eight years.
Eight years ago I had felt like I was dead, or dying at the very least. Like a wayward child I had run rebelliously beyond the confines of my Father’s yard. I had jumped the fence, and only briefly looked back. I had run haphazardly, and I had fallen hard. Yet when I came limping back sheepishly, licking my wounds, He had said, “Welcome home, my child.”
I was lost. But then I was found. I was blind. But then He opened my eyes so I could see. I was dead in sin. But then He gave me new life. I was shackled in chains of my own making. But He set me free.
I almost died, but instead I was reborn.
I think back to my thirtieth birthday, a time when I felt the worst, the lowest I ever have in my life, and I rejoice at that time. It was then, at my absolute emptiest, that God was able to fill me. He was able to renew me, and He was able to give me new life. It didn’t happen that day. The girl with the plastic crown still cried, but it was a start.
It was the beginning of God calling me back into His arms.
I woke this morning covered in pee. I got up, sore and tired, and I made breakfast for other people. I washed dishes, folded laundry, and put together curriculum for my daughter’s upcoming school year. There wasn’t a party, and I didn’t even get a crown. But I smiled all over. My body smiled from the inside out.
He had freed me from the past, but also from my past regret. He had fashioned a new crown for me to wear. And the grandest birthday gift of all was the realization that He is jealous for me. He loves me.
I spent my thirty-eighth birthday surrounded by love, not only from my family, but from the Holy Spirit in my life. I am happy, healthy, and whole. I’m back home, back in God’s will, and I’m alive. I wear an invisible crown now, and not just on my birthday. It rests there every day, like the peace that lives in my heart as I serve the Lord. It took me a while, but I finally found my way back into His arms.
Happy 38th Birthday to me, and more importantly, Happy 8th Birthday, the day I returned back home.