Well, it’s here.
Like the proverbial “Monster At The End of This Book,” my 40th birthday has crept up on me, regardless of my attempts to pretend it isn’t happening by ignoring that it IS happening..
Alas, the pages are turning…
I’m not really much of a person who “fears” aging. Truth be told, I’m pretty darn excited to have made it this far. I mean, when you think about it (oooh, the condensed version sounds SO exciting!), I’ve survived cancer (“the good kind,” LOL), two rounds of congestive heart failure, devastating loss, blah, blah, blah, and I really have no frickin’ idea how I’m still alive. In my youth, I was in Lord-knows how many car accidents (including a head-on collision)…and, to top it all off, I survived growing up in the 80’s, where things like seat belts were NEGOTIABLE. I am not someone who has survived by any kind of “admirable” grit and fortitude; I am someone who has survived by the sheer grace of God, an inherent sense of humor, and a strong (STRONG) family and spousal support system.
My mental battles have been far greater than my physical ones, and if anything was ever going to take me out, it has always, always been that. My brain, were it not for my spirit, would have killed me a hundred times over. When God said He would send us a Comforter, when He promised us His Holy Spirit, He did it knowing that we as a human race are intrinsically nihilistic, bound for self-destruction, and completely anchorless without His Presence in our hearts. I have Jesus in my heart. I have His Holy Spirit, and I have that peace that comes from knowing that He hears me. I’m not just shouting random things into an empty universe. My heart is heard, my soul is comforted, and I live another day.
That sentence could sum up my 40 years on this planet.
The need to be heard by humanity is massive. We all just want to be heard. It’s why I, and millions of others like me, write or blog, or jump on social media. We want to be heard, and we want to be validated. We want you and the world to recognize that we’re here. We have a voice.
It’s when people stop feeling heard…when they cry out, but no one responds…that the light flickers out of their soul…
There are days when I force myself to remember that I am always, always heard. I am always validated by the grace of God. It’s a theme that’s repeated in what I write, because it means so much to me. This world makes me feel overlooked…I question my worth. Do I matter? Am I making any kind of a difference? Is there any eternal impact in the work that I do, whether it’s on the job or in my home?
I feel as though my footprint on this earth is very, very small…
I don’t say that to pander for compliments. I say that because I think a lot of people feel that way, and I’m not alone in questioning my impact. I’m not abnormal in wondering what ripple I will leave on the ocean of the universe. We all want to leave a legacy, and we all have a story to tell….We all have a story that SHOULD be told.
I’m fascinated by biographies in short form. I’m fascinated by stories told by the elderly, by stories of days gone by…I’m fascinated by history, and the threads woven in the tapestries we look back on in their completed form, even as we weave new ones of our own. I’m fascinated by the colorful people I’ve met that NEED to write a book, but feel as though they’re not interesting enough to do so. EVERYONE is interesting!! I’ve never met a person that didn’t pique my interest in some way.
I think part of why I write is because life is INTERESTING. It’s fascinating!!! People don’t always see it, but when you combine perspective, vocabulary, and the freedom to wrote, you can paint a picture that makes what seems dull, shine brightly. You can make what seems dark point directly to the sunshine. The challenge in writing about those times is not to focus on the drama of the story; the challenge is to focus on the triumph as you come out of that drama. You make yourself write more about the positive than the negative, and in doing so, you bring the glory of God into that “dark night of the soul.”
And then, you have the victory.
So, I’m turning 40. It’s inevitable. I can’t stop it, and I’m not sure why I even want to. I mean, what good is it, to whine about something as non-discriminatory as AGE? Everyone ages!
(Yes, I just put that book there. It’s a classic!)
I’ve been a brat about this whole “birthday” thing. Like, REALLY. I wanted a party (is that selfish?!? I threw myself one for my 30th, LOL. but that’s an ENTIRELY different story), but my family isn’t big on parties, and my husband isn’t big on birthdays in general. Money is tight, and we live in the “real world,” where lavish events are just not in the vernacular. And in my head (and okay, I blabbed incessantly to my poor husband, because he married me and he knows how much of a Brat I can be), I was super-pouty and dejected about it (I’m admitting this not for you to say, “aww, poor Cassidy!” but for you to realize that I. AM. A. JERK.), to the point that I was like, CRYING during praying about it one day. I DON’T KNOW WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME. For some reason, I decided to internalize all of this as some kind of proof of a terrible rejection of me as a human being.
Because I was turning 40.
Because there wouldn’t be a party.
Because my friend at work just unfriended me and made a catty remark about it as she was sending me an e-mail about how horrible of a person I was.
Because my life is hectic and I spend too much time in my darn car.
Therefore, the universe hates me.
I am a terrible human being who does not deserve to breathe.
So, I cried.
THESE ARE THE THINGS THAT GO THROUGH MY CRAZY BRAIN.
And this is why I am grateful to the Lord that He gave us His Holy Spirit, to knock some darn sense into me and to REMIND ME that He loves me, even when I’m being an idiot.
It was during the course of a commute where I was bawling like an idiot, praying, and driving, that I heard Jesus speak my heart:
‘Okay, girlie. Here’s a Kleenex. You’ve destroyed your makeup for work today, and it’s a good thing you keep a spare makeup bag in your cabinet. Now, if you’re done bawling like a lunkhead, here’s the facts about you, about 40, and about Me:
‘I love you. I like you. You’re an idiot sometimes, and this is one of those times. That’s not a rejection; it’s a fact. You know you’re being an idiot. Your husband has been nice enough to not tell you you’re being an idiot, but that’s because I made him smarter than you give him credit for. 40, like any decade, is the start of a new chapter, and look at how much changed in your last chapter! Enjoy this. Embrace this. You’re afraid that 40 means you have to change who you are? 40 just means you become MORE of who I made you to be. You get better at being you, because you learn better about Who I Am. You put away childish things, but that doesn’t mean you give away childish hopes. You stay you. There’s nothing to fear.
‘Turn the page, Love. I’m at the beginning of the book, and I’m at the end. There’s no “Monster at the End of This Book.” There’s only Me. I’m all there needs to be, and I’m on every page. Welcome to the next chapter.’
In that instant, where He spoke into my heart, I realized that it wasn’t 40 I was afraid of. It was rejection.
I struggle with rejection. It’s been a battle my entire life; I permanently feel like the kid that’s on the outside-looking-in, always shoved to the side, and wishing I could be one of the cool people of the world. Minor events in my mind meld together to become massive issues, and that’s exactly what was making my approaching birthday so darn depressing; I was looking at everything through rejection-smudged glasses, and my world was bleak. Jesus shone some light on the situation, and when I was faced with the truth of my feelings, I was shook.
In my minds’ eye, I saw the rejection I had been dealing with unfold like 2 pages of a book…I saw a sword come down, and slice the two pages apart. They were caught by the wind, and blew away…
This doesn’t mean that whoosh! Jesus swept in, and now everything is hunky-dory!
This means that I’ve gained some perspective on what has been dragging me down, and now I understand. It means I can shake off the funk of the mid-life crisis that’s been plaguing me, and of all of the thoughts of things I want to do but can’t afford (and don’t have time for). It means I can stop worrying about the footprint I leave on this world, and focus instead on the footprints He leaves as He carries me through.
It means that change is inevitable, but so is the solidity of His Word.
It means that I can still be “meh” about turning 40. I mean, c’mon, it’s 40. It also means that although my knees quake when I research and find that biblically, 40 is a number defined as a period of testing (http://www.biblestudy.org/bibleref/meaning-of-numbers-in-bible/40.html), that I know I can reach out to find His hand is always there, ready to lead, catch, guide, and hold.
It means that it’s going to be okay.
It means that I, regardless of volume, intention, content, or melody, am heard by the One Who Never Rejects His Children.
And I am always His child…
Even when I’m 40.