One night after a particularly rough parenting day, my husband reminded me of the time before all this when this big house (church manse) we live in was very, very quiet. “Remember when you lived in this big house all by yourself,” he said, “and you’d order Mexican food on Friday nights and watch Netflix alone?” Ah the good ole days. Quiet.
But I chirped back with another memory, “Remember when I lived in this big house all by myself and I’d order Mexican food on Friday nights and cry into my guacamole because I was so lonely?”
“True,” he laughed, “Now you just order Mexican food on Friday nights and cry into your guacamole because you’re so tired.”
He’s not wrong.
Today, I turn 39 years old. At 39, I live in this dichotomy: of yearning for quiet and yet remembering a time – not so long ago – when I yearned for this noise. At 39, I have everything I yearned for and begged God for but didn’t have at 30. I have a job I love, a town I love, a husband I love, and 2 beautiful, smart, healthy, silly children, whom I love more than I ever thought possible. I want nothing more than what I have. … except maybe the strength to survive these blessings each day. For the blessed life isn’t the easy life.
If 30-year-old me would hear where I am today, she’d be shocked. How can you start a decade in one place and end it in another? When I turned 30, I was living in San Antonio, TX. I had some good friends, but loneliness crept in from all sides. In my 20s, I had been a bridesmaid and a wedding officiant more times than I could count. I was living far away from home and the people I loved. I was struggling in a call that didn’t fit quite right. I longed for a spouse. I dreamed of being a mother. I yearned to live close to beloved family and friends. I prayed for a solo pastor position in a small, welcoming church.
I prayed and I prayed. In those days, it felt like my prayers went unanswered. Time felt slow then. As I waited, I carried Psalm 13 in my pocket. I wrote the few verses down on a scrap of paper and I’d transfer it to whatever I was wearing, keeping it close. Some days I’d repeat it over and over. Other days I didn’t look at it, but I knew it was there. “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?” the Psalmist proclaims in verse 1, “How long will you hide your face from me?”
Yet, 9 years later, I am in awe. For now, I sing the end of Psalm 13: “Yet, I will sing to the Lord, because God been good to me” (v.6). If time felt slow in my 20s, time has moved fast in my 30s, which have been filled with major life changes. At 30, I did move close to family and friends and began my ministry as solo pastor. At 32, I met my now husband, Kyle. At 33, we were married. At 35, I gave birth to our 8lb 5oz bundle of pure energy, who is our daughter. At 38, I gave birth to our 10lb 4oz bundle of pure sweetness, who is our son.
Now at 39, I wonder: what do you do when you get everything you’ve ever wanted? I feel like, you pray for the strength to live that life with grace and humility. For living the life I always dreamed of doesn’t mean that this life is easy. These milestones I mentioned don’t take into account the real life lived just below the surface of these joys. The sleepless nights. The worries. The tears. The fears. The tantrums. The mess. The loneliness. The noise. The anxiety. The failures. The missteps. The wrong decisions. The poop! The exhaustion. The loss.
In my list, I failed to mention year 37 – our year of loss. That year, in a 9-month span, I lost a pregnancy and both of my beloved grandmothers. I also failed to mention year 38 – the year that was mostly lived in 2020, filled with pandemic, uprising, closings, quarantine, and a list of crises that seem to have no end. This is the year that everything changed, but we stayed stuck in exactly the same place. For the blessed life isn’t the easy life, but it is a life where God weeps with us and rejoices with us.
So today I turned 39 and I rejoiced with each precious blessing that God has gifted me in the last decade My husband got up with the kids at 5am, so I could sleep in. My daughter sang me a full version of the Happy Birthday song. My son climbed on my lap and said, “mama.” We spent the today together, enjoying the perfect weather, walking around an outside sculpture park, and eating Mexican take out.
Today, I celebrated both in gratefulness for what I have been given and in prayerfulness for those who still wait and yearn for God to act. I don’t know what this next year will bring me (or any of us for that matter). But I know a few things: God is with us. God is listening. God is acting (even when we feel it’s taking too long) … and there will always be guacamole for when things get tough.