I'll officially complete 27 years of life in a little more than a week.
(I'll probably be celebrating with my husband over a Carvel ice cream cake (my absolute FAV!) and the Season 7 premiere of the Walking Dead (another FAV). My idea of a good time!)
I'm beyond grateful.
There's something sober about staring down the beginning of another year, (The day after 27 is day 1 of year 28. And no, I've never been held up at gunpoint, but) I imagine it's similar to staring down the barrel of a gun.
My uncle, my mother's brother, died of cancer when he was 26. I was 6 or 7 at the time, and I remember it clearly. My family was devastated. A young life with such promise was gone. It hurt.
The hurt was foreign to me then. I couldn't fully comprehend it at the time, but I could see the effects ripple throughout my family.
I didn't fully comprehend grief until the loss of Kaiya, who was only 17. It's been 5 years since Kaiya left for heaven, and sometimes it still hurts like hell.
But in grief, we cope. In grief, there is hope.
I'll be 10 years removed from 17, and one year removed from 26 if I live to see this next birthday.
I remember being 16, impatiently thinking 18 would Never come. I remember being 18 wishing for 21. I remember being 21 looking excitedly to 25. And at 25 casually thinking of 30, but not really dwelling on it.
Ages 26, 27, 28, and 29 like ages 17, 19, 20, 22, and 24 were not ages I considered very much—society had succeeded in brainwashing me to think that the milestone birthdays were the only ones that mattered. I've had to unlearn, because that simply is not true.
Every year, every day, every moment we're given is a blessing.
Last year, after my 26th birthday, I wrote a list of 27 things I wanted to accomplish before 27. My "life theme" for year 27 was having the outside match my inside. I was confident in my heart and my abilities and I wanted my positive attributes to reflect externally.
27 was the year my life would finally take off, and everything I had been desiring would fall into place, because I was going to take charge and make things happen!
And for a while, it seemed that was true.
But then the monkey wrench—things that happened outside of my extremely limited control.
2016 was not as sweet as I thought it would be. In fact, it looked a lot like 2015. And to be completely honest, in some ways it looked worse than 2015.
The hardest lesson of all, was a reality check—I could not really want my external disposition to match my insides, because, truth be told, inside I was messed up.
I was not as good as I thought. I was not as good as I wished to be.
I had not made the internal progress I thought I had made.
There was still doubt, fear, and a desire to have things go my way, in my time, in my heart.
"27 things to do before 27" was nothing more than a list to measure my self worth and God's goodness to me. All very faulty.
But thank God for His grace.
As a society it seems we often use measurements of convenience to our advantage. For example, we compare ourselves to those who may be worse off in a particular area, or situation, to make us feel better about ourselves—"At least I'm not like so-and-so. I don't do that. I'm not That bad."
And on the flip side we often make excuses for ourselves when we compare ourselves to people who are seemingly doing better in a particular area or situation—"Well they have time/money/resources. Must be nice. Everybody ain't able. I wish I could be like so-and-so. The Proverbs 31 woman? That's not even realistic. Times are different." And the list could go on.
I'm guilty of both fallacies.
Comparisons of any kind are foolish. There's one standard, one accurate measuring stick, and we all fall short of it, Jesus—the glory of God.
Then, a few days ago I realized I had never truly been happy to be alive.
OH, I knew God made me. I knew He had a plan for me. I knew that with all my frustrations and disappointments God was still in control, but I had never been Glad that He made me.
In some ways, I thought He was cruel—for giving me a life and a life path that I didn't feel equipped to handle, and giving me heart that felt too fragile to withstand the atrocities of the world.
Suddenly, I realized that for the first time ever, I was actually glad that God made me, that I existed, and existed at this time. It was beautifully overwhelming.
I have changed. I am changing.
My goals for 27 (and any days and years to come) are no longer focused on DOing anything.
I have one all encompassing goal for the rest of my life, and that is simply to BE—to Become rather than Do. And that success will be measured by looking to Christ and His example.
I want to BE. After all, GOD Is. He announced Himself to Moses as "I AM." He was. And is. And is to come.
10 Things I Want to BE
If I had to sum up the goals of my existence, it would be to embody the following:
BE Love - that is, exist as the object of God's affection and respond to that affection by loving others.
Be Gracious - live every minute of my life in response to the grace of God.
Be Whole - all around spiritual, mental + emotional, and physical fitness.
Be Supportive - affirm my husband's call and activities, assist him as a helpmeet
Be Confident - embrace the personal gifts and skills I've been endowed with.
Be Diligent - get up early, and use my time well.
Be Business Minded - think in the long-term, research, delegate, make a profit
Be Generous - do more than just possess social concern, act on it by living generously, tangibly support the causes and people I believe in
Be Fluid - follow the leading of Holy Spirit. If I bend to His direction, I'll never break at the hands of others or the evil in the world.
Be - enjoy the present. Live with gratitude and intention. View each moment in light of eternity. Smile at the days and times to come. Welcome every challenge as an opportunity for growth and triumph, and receive every blessing in humility.
I don't have to Do, and I don't want to DO.
I don't have to work my way to self worth.
I can't earn God's love. I can only accept it.
It has taken me almost 27 years to realize that I Can -