Friday, January 1, 2016

27.

I've been waiting for this birthday for years, just so I could sing along with the Fleet Foxes about Montezuma:

So now I am older 
Than my mother and father
When they had their daughter
Now what does that say about me?

And it's true.  I'm now a year older than my parents were when they welcomed me into the world, and  at 27, the only person I am learning to mother is myself.  (Of course, cat baby is a different story, but being a cat necessarily disqualifies her from being considered a person).  On the morning of my 27th birthday, I sat on the couch and read the Book of Common Prayer and cried and cried.  If a core theme of my life has been the sneaking suspicion that I must behave and perform in order to make people love me, then it is the most tender and humbling revelation to be able to lean in, even for a few minutes or hours, to believing I am loved, worthy of connection and belonging, seen and known and not forgotten.  Beloved friends and family have done a really embarrassingly wonderful job of helping me feel the love this year.

I also cried because I was feeling the weight of how profoundly life-altering the last three years have been, how changed 27-year-old Sarah is from her 24th, 25th, even 26th birthdays.  It was so hard for so long, and there were (are) moments where I didn't believe I'd make it, when I suspected all hope and light was lost.  Yet here I am, and all the good and beauty in my life is made all the more precious.  By grace, I didn't sink down into the dirt and despair.  In my birthday letter, Chris wrote, "You have sprouted from that shell you needed to protect you and have begun to blossom, not into the person you once were, but into a stronger, gentler, more understanding, capable, purposeful person...I think you have had the true and admirable success in life, not me, and that is to be duly celebrated!"  This understandably continued the waterworks, and it also felt like a clear-sighted moment where I could say, this will be worth it.  This journey of deconstruction, of grief and doubt and pain, it's all part of the labor pains as I become someone entirely new, and somehow even more myself than I was before.  

I could have been lost, hidden behind my shell of protection, driven by anxiety and fear, hijacked by shame and scarcity.  Instead, I am being set free--thank you, Jesus--and this long slog is beginning to bear fruit, bear beauty.

Over the last few years I began a tradition of (gently) (insistently) forcing friends and family to make a list of goals or experiences they'd like to have during the next year of life--the number is always semi-arbitrary while attempting to be semi-related to their new age (i.e. if you're 24, you might make 4 goals or 6 [2+4] ). Here is what I hope for from for my 27th year, so far:
  • Journal twice a week 
  • Send 27 handwritten notes (text or comment with your mailing address if you want a note!)
  • Take a 1-second video daily 
  • Cook one vegetarian meal each week 
  • Organize love letters chronologically (including scanning in the letters we have) 
  • Volunteer in-person and pursue kinship with those on the margins 
  • Begin grad school 
Here's to these goals, and even more dreaming and envisioning--for twenty-seven, for a fourth (!) year of marriage, and for 20 sweet 16.

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