Today is my 36th birthday. When I look back on my life journey these 35 years (and 1 day) I have lots of thoughts and feelings. I am in awe of how the Father manifested Himself to me as a 19-year-old. Even though I believed since I was a child, it wasn’t until college that my intimacy with Him exploded from being a believer, to becoming a follower.
For 13 years straight, everyday, I woke up to intimacy. It was an intimacy I had never known. It was what caused me to leave my fiancé, move in with my mom, and wait for the next steps. As a college grad that is what He told me to do, so that is what I did.
I did not know then, that that was just the beginning. That along with His intimacy, I would learn sacrifice. I would learn that,
I am so blessed to have had such an amazing experience with the Most High. That He would count me, a lowly black woman of a single parent home, born out of wedlock, to a hardworking family who made ends meet by whatever means necessary.
That He would call me, Daughter.
I counted it an honor to be His child. To receive His love when I was so undeserving. I counted it an honor to be His. And in the midst of a dark and broken world full of pain, I was sheltered. Not that I myself hadn’t experienced pain, but He was always there. Showing me how to overcome it.
Applauding me when I did.
In the midst of that journey, He was producing something in me. He was creating wholeness and a legacy that is still to be revealed. At the same time, He was teaching me something.
He was teaching me how to suffer long.
In this season the lessons have intensified. The stakes have gotten higher. No longer have I wanted to be a student in what felt like an advanced course. No longer did I want to die.
I realized, while standing at my mother’s grave last month that the path will always be too difficult. There is a strength in me, an inner strength. And it has been passed down in my bloodline from one woman to the next (our family is made up of strong women). But no matter how strong I have been, I do not have the capacity to make this climb in and of myself. It will always be too difficult for me. I need Him.
In so many ways, now is my future. As a teenager when I laid down my life for Him and surrendered my passions and desires, I hoped for my future. I hoped for what is now. I had an idea and an expectation of what that now would look like. I believed “If I do things Your way, then eventually You’ll do things my way”. But He doesn’t. It is His way.
Always His way.
This last season has changed me. Trauma does that. In some ways it is a good change. Now I know the compassion of Christ like I have never known it before. Now I know what grace really is. It sustains you when you face your darkest fears. It covers you when you make your greatest mistakes.
I was talking to E recently and I told him that every year it rains on my birthday. As much as I love birthdays and I love to celebrate, its discouraging that every year it either rains or snows in Cleveland, Ohio. “It is at least always grey,” is what I said to him. E being the eternal optimist responded, “But what if it isn’t? What if its sunny and warm?” I just shook my head at him and rolled my eyes. “I have been on this planet for 35 years and every year it is rainy and cold. Trust me. I know.”
It is going to be 52 degrees today and sunny. 52 degrees in Cleveland, Ohio on April 3rd. It has never been 52 degrees in my recollection of birthdays. Ever.
I miss my mom. I miss her because she was always the one who celebrated the loudest. I miss her because I never imagined she would not be in my future. She would not be in the now.
But it is 52 degrees today. And I am enough of a prophet to know when He is showing me something. “The season is changing”, E said. And my heart lifted a little. But not too much, for fear that it would be broken again, but just enough to where I was open. Kind of like me saying, “If that is the case God, then show me”.
I welcome a change in season but struggle with expecting it. I have had so many false expectations and did not realize it until they did not come to pass. I guess that is apart of maturing.
I will spend time with loved ones today. I’m keeping a small circle because my heart can’t handle a large one. There are already people celebrating my birth and that is such a blessing when the one who gave birth to me is no longer present.
I’m grateful for His provision and His sustaining power. It really is supernatural that I have never went without, even when I have not had a job. I’m grateful for Him teaching me so many things in the past and maturing me to this point. I would not have become the woman I am today had I not listened to His leading, especially when I didn’t agree with it.
I know that He is faithful and right and true. It has just been difficult after such a long journey to trust. Job was able to trust even though he was being slayed. That is the level of faith I feel He has required.
I’m grateful He is more gentle with me than with Job. He handles me with care. Even in the midst of the storms and tests, He protects, only allowing so much, though it was more than I would have preferred. He surrounds me with His people and meets me with His Word.
He guides me with His eye.
I am grateful for the foundation He laid, to sustain me through the journey. We can never fully comprehend what lies ahead. But we know that He is there. Always there.
Now is my future. And I don’t know what the next season holds. But I can look back and see He has always sustained me.
And I know that is one expectation I am safe to have.