It happens every year, whether I like it or not. I can ignore it like a coward or take it like a champ–that trip around the sun we all refer to as a birthday.
“Here ’em singing Happy Birthday. Better think about the wish I make. This year gone by ain’t been a piece of cake.”
This is the post where people who have known me for most of my life might actually gasp at what I have to say. I have never fully enjoyed my birthday since the year I turned 12. Before then, I was in Murfreesboro, TN. I attended school there from Kindergarten through fifth grade. These are easy years when you are friends with everybody minus a rare few creeps in class and those people are usually bullies that we all know will probably wind up in a boys’ home in the future.
So from Kindergarten till the fifth grade, anytime I threw a birthday party (usually a slumber party), everyone attended. I was even pressed to invite girls I didn’t want there because apparently my slumber parties were always awesome. Horror movies, popcorn, candy, giggling, scaring one another. At my ten-year-old slumber party my best friend, Cari, wrote a birthday message to me on the chalk board in my bedroom and signed it “Freddy Krueger”. Upon seeing it, we all went ballistic and ran to the den–away from the haunting message. I tripped down the steps and twisted my ankle horribly. Didn’t phase me. I limped throughout the night, but that party rocked! My nine-year-old slumber party, my baby sister, Jessie, puked taffy all over another girl’s sleeping bag. Best night ever.We moved to Crossville, TN when I was eleven because my dad was offered a job that would finally put us in middle-class… okay, upper middle-class. I entered in a junior high setting without my old reliable friends who knew how awkward I was around boys and accepted me for my childish antics. Here, was a different story. I wasn’t mature enough to be considered cool and apparently, when you’re shy you’re automatically pegged as being a snob. I made very few friends and some of those were even quick to stab me in the back. Girls… we’re a catty species. For years, my slumber parties consisted of me and maybe one or two other girls out of the fifteen I would invite. I won’t lie, it hurt. It still hurts if I allow it. I simply wasn’t accepted well here. I was different. An outsider.
Sweet sixteen showed promise though. My mom, another friend, and my current boyfriend threw me a surprise party between performances. (At the time, I was doing a school play at the Cumberland County Playhouse.) Of course, few attended but what separated this party from the others was that my mother forgot to put film in the camera, only realizing this after she “took a ton of pictures”. Bless her.
At 18, another milestone birthday, I spent my evening playing monopoly with only my current boyfriend and his best friend (not mine)–because I was too busy with theatre and school to really have friends of my own.
21 was the same, but even less. I went to dinner at O’Charley’s with my family. That’s all. And Lord knows you’re not going to order your first drink in front of your Baptist parents!
“Everyday’s a revolution. Pull it together and it comes undone. Just one more candle and a trip around the sun.”
This is not to make any of my friends or family feel as though they didn’t celebrate my birthday well. I know that a lot of it was on me. After reaching a very insecure age, we moved away from friends I had already established and I was unable to step out of my comfort zone and make many new friends. So the standard we already set for me when I became an adult: Birthdays are a waste of time and I hated them.
Married, I never really celebrated my birthday, but secretly always wanted to. So, when I turned the dreaded 30 (yes, I was devastated with that age) I assumed that my husband would take it upon himself to throw me a surprise party. It was a milestone birthday. I had quite a few mommy-friends at that time, as well as neighbor-friends and church-friends. Not to mention, I dropped hints to him for weeks and months beforehand–because it’s not a surprise if I tell him that that’s what I expect, right? About two weeks before my birthday, I learn that nothing was being planned at all. So I threw myself a party. I was pleased at the turn out of friends and family that came to celebrate with me. Received wonderful gifts. My sister made my cake and it was delicious. But I was even more devastated with 30 after the party was over when I realized that I had to make the initiative for people celebrate it with me. I threw my own dang party. That is sad, people.
“No you never see it coming. Always wind up wonderin’ where it went. Only time will tell if it was time well spent.”
I swore I would never do that again. That I would no longer celebrate my birthday from that point on. However, since then that I have nearly killed myself, bending over backwards, trying to make my boys’ parties beyond wonderful. It is my goal for them to never dislike their birthdays, for I remember those days as a personal blessing to me. (Now I know how my mom feels.)
But despite my promise to ignore my birthday, every year, I would make silent and personal resolutions that next year would be different. Always next year…
I brought in 31, 32, & 33 during a tumultuous marriage and 34 was greeted with a divorce.
But my 34th birthday had a glimmer of hope ringing in it, even though I tried my best to ignore the day. For some reason, maybe it was a timing issue, I didn’t have my boys with me on my birthday weekend… in fact, I didn’t get them for hardly any holiday last year. I didn’t really want to be alone though, so my best friend met me at the movies. At the end of the night he gave me a book The Shack as a birthday gift, inscribing a personal message on the inside cover. Do you have any idea what that did for my heart, realizing that he remembered my birthday when all along I was trying to forget it? I no longer celebrated this personal holiday and he actually bought me a gift! And not just any gift, but gift that would possibly help me grow, because he knew that I felt that I was in a desert. He had faith that I would soon find God again and that through God I would find a way out of that desert.
“It’s another revelation, celebrating what I should have done with these souvenirs of my trip around the sun.”
Here I am. A year later. The 6th Anniversary of my 29th birthday. I’ve been through a 5 year desert that has ultimately strengthened me. Everything of this earth that I held dear has been stripped from me so that I could see with clear eyes that while I thought I had everything, I really had nothing without God as the center of my life. I wasn’t where I needed to be, where God intended me to be. For the first few years, I just tried watering the desert myself–but we all know that won’t do you any good if God isn’t turning on the faucet. Around 33, I resented the God that I had been raised to worship. Then last year, I heard His promise to me and I realized that He wasn’t punishing me, He was reaching out for me. For me!! I thought I was useless to him. Divorced. Sinful. Lustful. Depressed. How can you possibly use a person like that?
But He is. Like the saying goes: He doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called.
This last year, I finally stepped out of the spiritual desert that I had put myself in and began focusing on more His will instead of my own. Fighting the natural tendency to blame Him for my broken life, my broken heart… that’s not easy, because when we hurt, our natural instinct is to blame someone. Even in my self-loathing, I also wanted to bring God down with me. But in 2011, I’ve learned to see His love in all that is seemingly hurtful for me. He has a plan and I have surrendered to His plan. I continued to lack in material things but spiritually, I began to thrive. Why? Because I learned that desert means deserted–alone. And I have never been alone.
FINALLY! I am at the edge of the desert land and Jesus is stepping out of it with me, holding my hand.
He showed this to me about a month ago and the timing has become increasingly palpable in the last few days. He has so much in store for my future, things have already started falling into their places. I’ve been given several glimpses of His promise coming to fruition–I just need to be patient. My unemployment will cease in a short week, just watch. My first novel will be sent for formatting within 24 hours. I’m losing weight and toning up, at last! That zit on my cheekbone is almost gone. You have no idea how much that thing has bugged me in the last few days-haha!
In all seriousness though, God has already answered all my prayers, it just wasn’t in His time.
“I’m just hanging on while this old world is spinning and it’s good to know it’s out of my control…”
And I have finally made a decision about my birthday… It’s going to be the best one yet! No, I don’t have any official plans yet, but I know that I will have my boys with me this weekend, which is always a start of a good sign. Plus, I may not have many friends, but the few that I have I wouldn’t trade them for the world. And my best friend, who I love with all my heart, sent me a text last night that says, “I want to do something special for your birthday.”
It’s the small things, people. And to me, they’re not really that small at all. They’re bigger than life itself.
I’ve got a great birthday coming up this Sunday and it will be the official turning point in my life. This is only the beginning and life only gets better from here.
“If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from all this living, it’s that it wouldn’t change a thing if I let go.”
Now, for my exciting news. This is not to hurt or offend anyone in my life. I’m doing this for me. This Sunday morning at church, the 6th anniversary of my 29th birthday, I have prayerfully decided with a full heart to be re-baptized.
I was saved by God’s wonderful grace at the age of 10–March 30th 1987 to be exact–and was baptized shortly after on an Easter Sunday. I knew the significance of the Baptism then but couldn’t fully grasp what it meant. I chose to do it out of expectation and tradition. At ten, it was the right decision and I don’t take that for granted or see it as anything less than what my heart claimed it to be even then. Since the age of ten, I have strayed and wandered aimlessly in confusion, on and off again. Now, at 35, I can fully grasp what it is to be baptized, who I am and how God is in me. Like my pastor said, Baptism is like a business sign that says, “Under New Management”. Well, I am officially under new management and have been for quite some time now. It’s time I put up my sign. This baptism will not add to nor take away from the decision of 10-year-old Missy, but it will put a smile on the face of 35-year-old Missy. And I think my Father will be smiling (again) as well.
And of course, I will have with me during my celebration weekend my boys, my family, my friends, and my best friend, Matt. What more could I possibly ask for?
Oh! And The Walking Dead returns this Sunday night!! “Braaaaaaiiiins!”
Yes, this will be a fantastic birthday!
“Yes, I’ll make a resolution that I’ll never make another one. Just enjoy this ride of my trip around the sun.”