On the occasion of my thirty-ninth birthday I am pausing to take inventory of the life I hold so dear. Thirty-nine is a year that teeters on the balance. Not-yet-forty. Definitely almost twenty years away from twenty. I find myself on this day so full of gratitude and sorrow, joy and pain, anxiety and hope for the future.
I could arrange this post as a list:
1- the man I love and with whom I will soon celebrate 20 years of marriage.
2- my parents, still living. Divorced but cordial.
2b- my siblings, who along with their spouses and children fill up my heart.
3- the children grown and birthed from my womb, lights in my life.
4- more months until I begin seminary.
5- months since my first book was published.
Numbers can paint a picture real enough to touch, but they can also be played to show only the side I wish to display. I could list the 15 years I’ve spent in ministry, or the 11 years at my current church, yet lack the numbers to quantify the pain that comes when ministry wounds. I mentioned above my 3 beautiful children, but leave unmentioned the 3 pregnancies that did not last. We tend to tout our accomplishments and find space under the proverbial rug for the rest.
Taking inventory is more than numbers to me as I grieve the loss of so many over the years. People I love whose faces I see and laughter I can still hear, whose embrace my arms recall. Nineteen connected to the church I serve now. I’d rather talk about the 5 couples I’ve walked with into marriage, and that joy was very strong. The empty seats in emptying pews, though, make themselves known far more often.
I wish sometimes life was only the roses. I would love to dwell on the 8 families I have served as they brought new life into the world. That or maybe the 100 poems I have written in the past two years. Better yet, the 550+ sermons I’ve delivered, or the 1 that won a national prize.
I am immensely thankful for the life I have been given. I celebrate the gift of people who shine their lights brightly into my dark nights. I grieve the losses, I do not run from the pain. Thirty-nine years have taught me that to mourn is to acknowledge the value of what was lost. In that way, each tear becomes a treasure.
This post is getting rambly, and I should wrap it up by saying that I have hope for the future, years I hope to live to their fullest. I anticipate new adventures. I long for days of rest (never too early to think about retirement). Mostly, I hope that in all the years I have before me that I can continue to pour out grace on those who most need to be blessed.
Taking stock of life.