This time last year, I wasn’t looking forward to my birthday. The “birthday blues” were at an all-time high and I wanted the day to be over as fast as the day come.

This year, I spent half my birthday locked up in my apartment; I almost went to work, but the thought of interacting with 95-plus hyperactive 9th graders wasn’t appealing (and Mondays are professional development which extends the day to an excruciating hour and a half).

32 came like a blur. I was in the middle of an intense spiritual battle, desperately trying to hear God’s voice to my numerous questions: Which church congregation should I move on to? Should I resign from my job? Did I make a mistake in leaving my current church? Should I go back? Should I stay? God, what do I do?

Turns out 33 yields similar questions. I am grateful that God has gently persuaded me to “be still and know that I am God” as far as the church situation goes. Too often I let my own insecurities and doubts creep into my relationship with God instead of trusting His process and plan. Right now He’s refining me in ways that I never fathomed.

32 was the year I lost my grandmother. At 93, she saw 5 generations and was ready to transition. I foolishly thought she’d live forever; when someone is a part of your life for so long, their inevitable passing is jarring in surreal. There are moments I still expect to see her number pop up on my phone; when the family traveled to Florida after she passed, I still expected her to be fluttering around in the kitchen or sitting on her bed while the news blared in the background. I miss her.

32 was the year I went to 3 different countries. Grenada, Canada, and France. I learned that travel can be both invigorating and frustrating, magical and disappointing. There was a zest I experienced scurrying around my apartment looking for travel-sized toiletries, checking my phone for flight updates, and zipping/unzipping my backpack a dozen times to make sure I had my passport.

32 was the year I inched closer to the realization that I desire to be a storyteller. That God gifted me with a fire to share words of encouragement and wonder. Unfortunately, the aforementioned doubt is a present enemy, ready to snuff out the flame of creativity and faith that God writes through me.

32 was the year that my resilience and faith were tested. In these last few weeks, I’m facing seemingly insurmountable decisions. Decisions that I have to count the cost of the choices being made. Yet I know that my current position is triggering unprecedented anxiety and weariness. I spend most of my days dreading the next; waiting with restrained tension for the day to be over and I can breathe easy.

33 is the year I need to let go. Let go of the hesitation when sharing about the Lord. Letting go of a career that sparks adulations from family and strangers, but drains all facets of my being. Letting go of the stories, both fictional and factual, that I bound because I didn’t think I had anything of value to say. Letting go of the fear of starting over and taking unseen steps toward a future where I wake each day eager to see what God has in store.

33 is the year I embrace the words said in Luke 1:37 “With God nothing is Impossible”.

33. The year of Impossible.

I think I like the sound of that.

God is able to do far more than we could ever ask for or imagine. He does everything by his power that is working in us. Ephesians 3:20-21.

32 Candles

I found a $20 dollar bill in the pocket of my winter coat this morning. I thanked God for the unexpected birthday gift since I woke up with a rancid stomach and a cloudy head. Usually, birthdays, at least for me, bring a sense of invigoration, a chance to revive old dreams and to create new goals.

Instead, this year I felt similarly to Samatha Baker from the movie 16 Candles; only instead of friends or family forgetting my birthday, I wanted to forget my birthday. Just let the day pass as quickly as daylight during this time of year. I even cried a little last night, wanting to sink into my mattress for the impending 24 hours. Thankfully, I was able to connect with a dear friend after church, have a delectable Brazilian steak dinner with my father and then cake with family. Gradually I found myself smiling more and more throughout the day.

It’s incredible that I’m double 16 (some folks I come across say I can still pass for 16). And for that, I should be grateful. This is why the initial apathy I had about my birthday was concerning. I mean, I just moved into my first solo apartment! I have a stable job. Health insurance. Decent health. A loving family. Friends.

I asked myself; “what is going on with me?” Despite having what I desired for years after I graduated from college (career, own place), I found myself disturbingly discontent. Lonely. Depressed. Barely able to get out of bed in the morning. And this is after I went through an intense form of Cognitive therapy procedure. I kept thinking I was supposed to be “cured” of these issues. That as the “brand new” Leah, I conquered the insecurities, fears, and trepidations of my former self. The dreams I had long smothered would magically revive into manifestation.

Instead, for the past two months, I’ve felt like I missed a mark. That the direction I took was a derailment, a wrong turn and now I’m lost even though everything seems like I’m driving in the right direction.

Then there’s the passage of time. Relatives growing older. The inevitable transitions. Hearing about sickness, aches, and pain during conversations. Wishing that there was infinite time to be with loved ones yet knowing that’s not reality.

Solomon, in the book of Ecclesiastes tells us there’s a time for everything; to be born and die, plant and uproot, tear down and build, weep and laugh, to search and give up (Vv. 1-8). I think my issue is that I’m not sure what time God has me in. Maybe that’s what’s bothering me. I feel jumbled in unfamiliar seasons.

As another birthday concludes, where I find an appropriate stopping point for this blog post and work up the courage to face tomorrow, the answer always circles back to God’s word. I’m shameful to admit that through this haze, I haven’t been connecting with God like I should. He can’t work in me if I shut and lock Him out. He’s always standing, waiting patiently for me to answer. Its up to me to open the door. To invite Him in. For Him to show me the plans He predestined for me.

Besides, our Lord loves s good celebration. And I can wager He’s the most excited to celebrate year 32 right beside me. Wrapping me in in His love as we blow out the birthday candles.