Peter: I have always found myself most moved and convicted not by sermons, but more by testimonies, primarily because they are so personal and relatable. And so I have asked a few people to share their stories on my blog as guest contributors – if you would like to share your story of what God has done in your life, let me know! To start things off, my wife Carol (who hopefully will become a regular contributor, *nudge*) shares a few thoughts from her birthday last week:
This week I celebrated my 36th birthday, the end of my thirty-sixth year of life, the beginning of the thirty-seventh. One afternoon, a couple weeks before my birthday, I noticed a dark, little cloud forming in the corner of my mind, and bringing with it these thoughts:
Thirty-six, now I’m officially ALMOST forty…almost FORTY. What?!? Is that right?!? I don’t feel like I’m ALMOST FORTY, I don’t think I look THAT old… but that’s what the calendar says. Wow, how did I get this far along in years, and have *looks around blankly* to show for it?
I was brought back to the moment at hand by Jonathan’s demand for applesauce and milk (which is actually any beverage except milk, which he cannot drink), and the girls’ requests for more paper and tape. But that little cloud stayed right where it was, casting a small shadow on my heart. For the next few days that darkness made its heavy presence known at various times throughout the day, causing wrinkles and furrows in my brow, only to be dispelled by the need to find Katie’s beloved Bunny or the star sunglasses, or the need to change a dirty diaper.
Then one evening, as I washed the dishes, the “thirty-six almost-forty” thought again came to mind, but with it, another thought, an unexpected remembrance:
Remember where you were two years ago. Two years ago…yes…I was recovering from my mastectomy and lymph node removal, with tubes coming out of my chest to collect fluid drainage into plastic bulbs that Peter helped me empty every day, trying to reconcile that I was pregnant but that I needed chemotherapy ASAP.
And with this remembrance came a realization:
Yes, that’s where I was two years ago, but now, I’m here. This is where I am NOW. I am STILL HERE.
Thankfulness welled up in my heart overcoming that little, dark, heavy cloud shadow, and raising in its place a prayer:
God, thank you that I’m here, washing the dishes from which my loves ate dinner, belly bulging with another miracle life. Thank you, Father, that the demands of the “now” kept my mind from taking those incipient dark, discouraging thoughts any further down a more destructive slope. Thank you that next week I get to celebrate thirty-six.
I’m sure you know all too well, though, that dark shadow thoughts like those aren’t easily banished. No, they often sneak back into our minds and quietly occupy the cobweb corners, unnoticed until that moment when the absolute last thing you need is to notice cobwebs and dark shadows. Against such thoughts I’ve learned that the best defense is a good offense—active, mindful gratitude, thanksgiving. I must daily lift up thanks, declaring like the prophet Samuel, “Thus far the Lord has helped me” on my journey through this life. And I must seek the help of God’s Spirit in my heart to open my eyes to see all around me for which I should be thankful. And truly, I must choose to do this daily.
I’ve decided that I can’t lose time feeling discouraged that I’m growing older. Instead I resolve to be thankful that I’ve had the gift of another year, thankful for my health, thankful for changes and surprises. And I will proudly wear the paper birthday queen crowns made for me by the kiddos. Forty, here I come.