My birthday is perfectly placed, smack dab in the middle of the year, for the introspection that always happens around the New Year, and then again six months later.
I’ve spent weeks contemplating this day and what my emotions are. It’s not a particularly significant birthday, and yet I feel the need to celebrate more as I grow older.
This morning when I woke up and drove to the gym, I played a song from my worship playlist that I heard for the first time as a child: Take Us to the River by the Irish worship leader Robin Mark. The words I heard this morning made me weep.
“The spirit of the sovereign Lord is upon us/ This is the year of the Lord!”
Man, does that feel like a promise and a blessing.
These are the words Jesus read at the beginning of his ministry.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,Isaiah 61:1-2
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
It seems fitting that these are the words I ponder as I begin a new chapter of life.
Life has been messy this past year. But I have made a conscious effort to be honest with myself, to embrace the small moments of heartbreak and the beauty I see woven throughout. I’m feeling my emotions about getting older, being lonely, being surrounded by wonderful friends and community, striving to reach goals, feeling like I’ve fallen short yet again. I’m in love with my life and the people who are in it, flaws and all. What a glorious blessing it is to have another year to take it all in.
Zach Bryan released an album at the end of the spring titled “American Heartbreak.” His lyrics capture a lot of the spirit of being in one’s twenties and growing older and more aware. Here’s a couple of lines from his song “Right Now The Best.”
This whole world’s always waiting on tomorrow
Itching, fiending for whatever happens next
But what if I told you they’re all lying
And I love you for who you are, right now, the best.
Everyone thinks they’re going the wrong way
But they’re looking at their maps all wrong
‘Cause everywhere is somewhere to someone
And in a rush, you cannot dance to smooth slow songs.
That’s something I’ve been telling myself recently: “I love you for who you are, right now, the best.”
It’s easy to get caught up in who we are becoming, who we want to be. But I want to live out every moment and appreciate the present, not get so caught up in the future that I look back and feel like haven’t fully appreciated the moments now past.
Part of living in the present means being honest with myself. To me, self-honesty is this line I read recently:
“… I’m not running around blaming anybody. I’m doing the work… Letting it hurt. Scraping the rust off my heart.”Fountains of Silence
Scraping the rust off your heart is hard and painful when you’ve spent your life outfitting it in armor. It’s something I’ve known for years was important, but was unwilling to open myself up to.
Slowly, that is changing. And boy, does it hurt. It hurts to open my eyes to how ego-driven, envious, impatient, and afraid of anything less than perfection I have been. It hurts to admit and analyze my flaws and weaknesses and ask God for the grace to work through those. But it is vital.
Ten years ago, I got a tattoo with the words, “The truth shall set you free.” Then, it was a reminder of the self-deception I’d been engaging in, listening and believing lies even when warning bells were going off in my head. Today, it is a reminder of the power of truth: it is the force that shines light in the darkness. Not only do I want to seek truth, I want to bear the truth as well.
This year, on my birthday, I’m grateful to be living in the present, excited but not fearful for the future. Each moment – the bright rays of joy and cool melancholies of sorrow – is a blessing. My hope for you today is that you will let the sunlight filter into your soul. Use it to truly see all the dark, hidden parts you feel like you can’t show to anyone. And then start the process towards scraping the rust off your heart- admitting those weaknesses and seeking the grace to heal them.