Birthdays naturally lead to introspection and projection. We look back on the years gone by and marinate in feelings of gratitude and/or regret. Maybe a dream or two comes into view as the lights from the birthday candles reflect in hopeful eyes.
The big ones invite a different kind of personal insight. Eighteen brings big ideas about adulthood. Twenty-one allows new-found freedoms to indulge–or not. Thirty-three can be spiritually significant as this is the year Jesus completed his work on earth.
Today begins the last year of my thirties, the precipice to the second half of life. I should feel like an adult by now, right? I often feel like I am playing house. Wearing my mom’s high heels, stirring imaginary dinners with a wooden spoon, dressing dolls, and dreaming of all of the tomorrows. It’s time to do it for real now, to be who I am going to be. Time to fill in my skin with all its wrinkles, dimples, and sun spots.
My cake has thirty-nine candles on it today. I suck in all the air I can so that my lungs start to burn around the edges. I close my eyes and release all the pent up hope, hidden regret, and cast a vision for my life.
39 Birthday Wishes
- Alleviate someone’s loneliness.
- Rediscover the beauty of hymns and share them with my children.
- Invite people to sit around my table wherever I sit.
- Notice the hurting, the necessary, the hidden people in my life.
- Give lavishly to those in need.
- Learn the names that go with the sweet faces behind the counter at Aldi.
- Hide God’s Word down deep in my heart where chaos and friction can’t move it.
- Listen to my daughters, not just hear them.
- Rediscover how to have fun.
- Encourage the women in my life to pursue their passions.
- Rub my husband’s whiskers often.
- Teach my son to open doors for women.
- Watch my kids embrace differences with the love of Christ.
- Pray earnestly and faithfully.
- Don’t let fear keep me from saying yes.
- Don’t let fear keep me from saying no.
- Keep negative opinions, complaints, and gossip to myself.
- Speak up for justice, love, and kindness.
- May every friend feel like a cherished friend.
- Put more letters in the mailbox.
- Publish it.
- Get my instructions for Christian living straight from Jesus.
- Be generous with my time, my words, my affection, and my attention.
- Discover my son’s love language.
- Self-control. Enough said.
- Live in freedom—free from self-imposed restrictions and enemy-inspired doubts.
- Sing my freedom loud and often along with Crowder’s American Prodigal.
- Practice excellence in an effort to share Christ clearly and effectively.
- Don’t stop at doing good, but pursue Christ wholeheartedly.
- Use planes, trains, and automobiles to visit friends.
- Instead of saying “let me know how I can help,” find ways to offer help with specificity.
- Don’t use electronic babysitters as my default for our family time.
- Walk beside someone down a hard path, allowing the strength of Christ to carry us both.
- Let my heart be broken and put back together with compassion.
- Keep my front door open.
- Play games.
- Allow love and respect to call the shots in my marriage.
- Less screen time, more face time.
- Allow God to bring my character up to speed with His dreams for me.
My thirty-nine wishes require a shift in my heart. More than a list of New Year’s resolutions, it’s not something I can do with a series of checklists and self-discipline. It is a shift from surviving to thriving. Making these wishes come true will be a work of the Spirit of God in my life.
As I release the last of my held breath, extinguishing the final flame atop my cake, I release past mistakes, the times I tried and failed, and my own ability to be the best I can be.
I am out of breath. Breathe on me, oh breath of God.
This list is heavily influenced by some wonderful women in my life and two of my recent reads. They helped to shift my focus upward and outward.
Karen Ehman’s soon to be released Listen, Love, Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World is full of the little things we can do to make for a full, meaningful, Christ-honoring life. Pre-order your copy here.
Shannan Martin’s Falling Free: Rescued from the Life I’ve Always Wanted wrecked me in the best way. If there’s ever a book to read before you blow out your candles and make your wishes, this is it. You can read more here.
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Photo Credit: Alex Holyoake via Stocksnap.