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Birthday Musings

June 1, 2005

Sunday was my twenty-seventh birthday. Birthday’s stand as milestones and markers for me. Birthday’s were always “big deals” in my family. My mom would always come up with a tray of breakfast goodies and flowers. I often think back to previous birthdays, maybe ask myself, “what was I doing this day 10 years ago?” Unlike other days that get lost in the jumble of years, I can always remember various birthdays which link me to other memories from that age or year.

I’ve realized I’ve had some misconceptions about age. First of all, I used to think at some point I’d feel “grown-up.” (Whatever that feels like–does anybody know? Is it when you have kids?) I imagined I’d feel self-assured and confident. But I still feel, essentially, the same as I felt on my thirteenth birthday. Same old me inside this skin. And marriage must certainly make one feel “adultish,” but it hasn’t done it for me. I’m still surprised sometimes to find myself married. And the thought that I’m actually old enough to bear children is equally astonishing. (No, I’m not pregnant.)

Most of my life I assumed that at this age I’d most definately be a published author . . . perhaps writing books the sort Elisabeth Eliot wrote? About my missionary experiences? I’d probably be in Africa working in an orphanage. I’d rescue children like Amy Carmichael did in India. I didn’t imagine myself married, always figured I’d stay single, because I did, seriously, want to commit my life to God whole-heartedly to His service without the distractions of normal family life. I knew one thing was for sure, I didn’t want to live a “comfortable” nominal Christian life.

I also had the naive thought that after college was over and after one got married, there would not be any other “major” decisions to make. You could kind of breath a sigh of relief. But the decisions seem to get harder. I hadn’t realized that!

But here I am, twenty-seven, happily married to a wonderful man I wouldn’t trade for Africa and working in an art museum which has been an unexpected experience. But I’m really the same. I’ve gotten older. I hope I’ve gotten wiser. I still dream of that book getting published and sometimes talk to Josh about going to Africa. (It was my top choice for a honeymoon–a Safari! We actually looked into it but, alas, mucho bucks.) Or maybe we could get a big house and adopt lots of children? Do they still not want baby girls in China? Maybe we could have them sent to us? He’s not too sure about that.

I’m also realizing that not living a comfortable Christian life is harder than I thought. Actually, I really do want comfort. I want a house, a new computer, scanner, digital camera, nice clothes, an iPOD, more books, to go to Europe on all vacations, not to be bothered . . . the list is long. But I see that daily I’m tested in that “comfortable” part of my life. I’m given an opportunity to talk to my co-workers about my faith which I rarely do. When asked to do things for other people when it isn’t convenient I whine to myself and sometimes others. So maybe I should start with those comfort zones, before I sail off into the African sunset. I know wherever I end up in this life, no matter how old I am, my “comfortable” will always be tested, but thankfully I always have the Throne of Grace to run to when I fail.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. June 1, 2005 9:02 pm

    I will be completely honest and admit that… I forgot your birthday. I kept staring at the May dates each day, wondering what was niggling, but the twenty-fourth (is that right?) passed without any recognition. Sorry. Happy birthday!

    My mom told me that she doesn’t feel grown-up yet, so I’m thinking there’s not a cut-off date for inner youth. Probably because God didn’t originally intend for us to grow old and die, so we aren’t created to think that way.

    Comfort is probably my most cherished idol, one of the hardest Things for me to give up. Or even think about giving up. “I don’t think I should fast,” I caught myself thinking one day, “because it’s so hard on me.” I enjoyed reading your thoughts.

    Your ambitions have always made me laugh. I’m glad to see that neither age nor marriage has dampened your wildly imaginative life goals. 🙂

    — SJ

  2. June 1, 2005 10:11 pm

    Danielle,

    I could have written that myself. How strikingly similar our ambitions and our idols, too! “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purposes that prevail.” Good thing that those purposes are also “to prosper us, to give us a hope and a future.”

  3. June 2, 2005 10:49 am

    That’s ok about the birthday, Sara. You’ve got enough birthdays to remember in your family without trying to keep up with mine! Mine was May 29th though, and Marti’s was the 24th, I believe.

    Yeah, my mom always said she felt the same too, and would often be surprised to fine an old face looking back at her in the mirror.

    I’m glad my ambitions continue to make you laugh. I remember you laughing at them in Purcellville:)

    Thanks, Briana for your encouragement. I’m so glad the Lord’s purposes prevail despite me!

  4. June 7, 2005 6:50 pm

    I just back from a vacation to Kansas, the sunflower state, where I spent only 2 years (third and fourth grade) but consider it the place of my childhood. My dear friend Barb and I talked about this very thing: are we really OLD enough –and more importantly, mature enough–to have teenagers? When did we grow up? (Our conclusion was like yours: we haven’t, we’ve just grown older.)
    And yes, our idol of comfort must be as golden as the wheat blowing in the prairie wind.

  5. June 7, 2005 6:51 pm

    By the way, happy 27th birthday!

  6. June 9, 2005 8:40 am

    Danielle, I remember standing on my front porch when I was 14. I was telling myself to remember that moment. I was planning my life and I wanted to remember what I thought would happen. I planned the marriage and the kids almost accurately. The career panned out. The only thing I never considered was the impact the Lord would have in my life. As I run headlong into 40,(Zoanna are you with me?) I realize what an amazing amazing gift it has been! Thank you for your article, it was touching to go back and remember.

  7. June 9, 2005 8:42 am

    That was supposed to say the career “never” panned out. I wanted to be a commercial artist or a nun! I can’t picture either one of those now! I’m laughing just thing about it.

  8. June 9, 2005 1:28 pm

    You, a nun? You’d have turned that convent into a comedy club!

  9. June 11, 2005 7:29 pm

    I, like Bri, find our similarities uncanny. What is it with those huts in Africa that are just so much more appealing than dusting the furniture?

    Anyway, kids have made me grow up in a sense. I find I am a different person in some respects. This is God’s grace. Maturity is coming (be it ever so slow) in this season through motherhood (like no season previous).

    That said, I still lay in bed with my husband and say, “Can you believe we ended up marrying each other, and those are OUR kids in the next room!?!” I sometimes still feel like I’m just playing house.

    Happy Birthday! May you be able to say with the psalmist, “surely goodness and mercy have followed me all of the days of my life.”

  10. Mom permalink
    June 15, 2005 12:02 pm

    Danielle, I believe the quote you’re looking for from me is, “It always surprises me when I look in the mirror and don’t see the 21 year old image of myself, (the way I still see myself),instead I see a grey haired lady. It’s always a shock. Mom–>

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