Monday, March 10, 2008

Happy Birthday to me.

Tomorrow I turn 45.

It is interesting for me to think of my last two birthdays. On my 43rd, I was happily married (or so I thought), just completing a 6-month course in Martin Seligman's positive psychology, working part-time in a church where the long-term beloved pastor had died exactly one month before my birthday, nearing completion of a two-year course in Gestalt Pastoral Care, considering a move to North Carolina and generally enjoying my life immensely. Given what transpired over the next several months I sometimes look back and wonder if I was completely deluded.

But I know I wasn't. I was genuinely happy then. I remember that birthday as one of my best. I was rested and renewed after leaving my previous church (the one where I burned out) 1 1/2 years before. I was feeling excited about the possibility of a move near my parents. I was delighted with the courses I was completing and wondering how that learning might be integrated into my new life. I was grateful to the church where I had landed for the way they opened their hearts to me in the midst of their grief.

By my 44th birthday, I had moved and left behind all my community, I was unemployed, my marriage had fallen apart and my career seemed dead to me. I was as alone as I had ever been. But I was also relieved. The week before my birthday, my husband moved out (at my request) and I received two job offers and two more interview offers. I decided to go ahead and take my current job. So while everything was new and uncertain, life held possibility and relief from the end of the longest, hardest 8 months of my life.

Now it is a year later. I've been at this job for a while. I've been single for a while. I've started to build community. I've gotten used to being a child living near her parents again. I've taken a first stab at dating (yikes!).

There is so much for me to be grateful for. I'm a homeowner. I have a decent job. I'm meeting interesting people. I live in a great neighborhood. I have loving, caring parents. I have a beautiful, resilient son. I am making ends meet. I have a reliable car. I have a sweet dog. I live in an amazingly beautiful part of the world and an interesting little city. I have a good friendship with my ex. I have a supportive board of directors at work. I am physically healthy and mentally on the mend. I am competent and capable and likable much of the time.

Life is nothing like I imagined it might be two years ago. Nothing. Not a thing.

And I cannot imagine what my life will hold one year from now. At all.

I would like to be able to go back and pick up the pieces from that 43rd birthday -- the joy and wonder and hope I felt then. But the two years in between have been full of learning and humility and grace that need to be better integrated before that old joy can re-emerge, I guess. I am not unhappy. I am often able to laugh with ease. I feel connected to the people around me. Most days I can believe that more goodness and mercy lie in wait for me.

And so, I begin my 46th year of living. More humble, certainly. More wise, perhaps. Living, day by day, on faith in a way I could only hint at when life was easier.

*image "Humility" by Chidi Okoye

15 comments:

Diane said...

life is uncertain...but I'm glad you are where you are.

Wormwood's Doxy said...

((LJ))

I will light a candle for you today--and the next time I see you, the drinks are on me!

May the coming year bring you delight and happiness and leave you with only good memories.

Love,
Doxy

lj said...

Diane and Doxy,
Although I've met Doxy only briefly and know Diane only through your beautiful blog, I feel you both are friends I've gained through this crazy year. Praise be to God.

Some days trusting is hard, but it's all I have right now. So trust I must. Thank you for your prayers and loving-kindness.

Ruth said...

I was so glad I happened to stop by your blog today, just to see if you'd started up again. I'm honored to wish you a happy birthday! You are so eloquent at expressing the changes that life brings. You embody resilience. Treat yourself well today. . . and tomorrow. . . and all week.

pj said...

Happy birthday, sweetheart! I'm sorry I'm late.

Here's a virtual cupcake and 45 virtual smacks (unless you'd prefer noogies?) Plus one for good luck.

((((((((((LJ))))))))))

lj said...

Ruth and PJ,
Thank you!

Ruth, I just started blogging again. Who knows if I'll keep it up. I've got to add you to my list. I hope all is well up that way. I miss all of y'all. Not enough to come to a Presbytery meeting, but you know ...

PJ, cupcakes. yum. My mom made me a flourless (I don't eat wheat) molten lava chocolate cake last night. Very nice. (Following wild sock-eye salmon, asparagus and wild rice ... also nice). I don't know about noogies vs. smacks. Maybe you could just slap me around with some of those noodly appendages.

lj said...

OK, Ruth, you're on the list!

Diane said...

well, now it's the day, so I can say Happy Birthday!

more cows than people said...

Happy belated birthday, LJ! I read this this morning and thought that the 12th was your day. It is the day of my beloved and he turns 35 this day. I thought... how lovely two people I value so much share a day I must come back later to tell her.

I love your voice. I am so glad you were born. And I appreciate this reminder of how quickly life changes and the grace you embody through changes.

May you be bathed in light in this 46th year.

Kirstin said...

Happy Birthday, love!

jledmiston said...

Just saw this. Missed your official b-day. BUT can we celebrate in May (when I'll be in your neighborhood?)

You pick the spot.

lj said...

Thanks, MC, Kirstin and Jan.

Hooray, Jan is coming to the mountains! You bet your sweet patootie we'll be going out!

pj said...

SMACK with a noodly appendage. :)

Jane R said...

Happy Birthday! I read your post on the proper day but it was one of those exhausted ones (my day, not your post) so here is a big belated birthday hug ((((lj))))). The sushi's on me next time I'm in your neck of the woods! May this be a healing and joyful year for you.

lj said...

PJ, ouch.

Jane, sushi! yum!

What happened to my pretty picture? (Not of me, on this post).