For the past couple of months this day has bothered me…knowing it was coming bothered me.
Today is just another day.
Today is just another anniversary of my birth.
This day is really no different than any other day in the year, other than today, I am another year older.
I really have not struggled much with getting older. Most years I embraced my new year, my new age. And I really celebrated my day.
But this birthday has been hard for me….. not in the “holding my breath” hard that my 51st birthday was. But hard in the realization of what this age means for me.
There have only been a couple of birthdays that were hard, REALLY hard for me. And it may surprise you to know it wasn’t my 30th or my 40th or even my 50th birthdays. Those were milestone birthdays I embraced and celebrated. Those birthdays were the dawning of a new decade for me. A new stage of life.
No, those birthdays did not bother me. 20 did. 20! I dreaded turning 20 because I was no longer a “teenager”. I had to be an adult. (Never mind that I had gotten married 2 weeks before I turned 20! And had my first child when I was 20!). I was not ready to be an adult, a full adult. I felt I had been robbed of my teenage years and did not want to let go. So, yes, turning 20 was hard.
But not nearly as hard as my 51st birthday. And you can read how that birthday impacted me here. That birthday was the catalyst for my blog.
Today I turned 55. And the past couple of months leading up to this day were hard. I was not looking forward to my birthday, even thinking maybe I should skip it because if I skip it then I don’t really turn 55! Yeah, right! It was what this birthday represents, that it really, truly means I am more than halfway through my life that made this day hard for me. My goal to live to my 100th birthday, is closer than I want and arriving far more quickly than I want. This year means that there is only 45 years of living left to do and that is going to go fast. Why it didn’t hit me until this birthday, I am not sure. But it did. And hit me hard a couple of months ago. I know that I am so blessed to have reached this age. Many do not get here. My mother did not. But it is still slightly difficult for me today.
The realization of where my age is now, had me reflecting on what I have accomplished in my life. All those dreams and ideals of my childhood…what happened to them? What had I accomplished? How have I really made a difference in this world?
Before you stop and answer any of this, bear with me a minute here—
You see, I had grand plans for my life. I believed that what I had experienced in my childhood meant that I was here, that God placed me here on earth, to make a difference on a grand scale. I wanted to become a Social worker to help abused children. I wanted to become an advocate for all those children who had no one to speak for them, all of those who had no voice. I saw myself sitting before the United States Congress, speaking on behalf of all those abused and abandoned children. I envisioned that I would be a part of drafting policies and laws that would protect children. I saw myself meeting with my Governor, with US Representatives and Senators. And I saw myself meeting the President and discussing policies to benefit abused children. I believed I would achieve great things and have a huge impact on a grand, giant stage.
And I planned to do this all while raising my own children, because being a mother was one of the things I wanted most in my life.
Well, here I am celebrating turning 55 years old and the only thing that materialized that I, as a young girl, had dreamed, planned and envisioned for my life was to become a mom. The rest didn’t happen. I never stood on a grand, giant stage, literally or otherwise. And I never had a huge impact on hundreds of lives. that realization is what made this birthday harder. I am running out of time. I have lived for 55 years and what have I done other than to get married, follow my husband around the world and raise our boys? More than half my life behind me and what have I done?
And then this morning I woke up and realized some things, had a shift in my thoughts that made this day easier…making aging easier.
Yes, as a young girl I had BIG ideas and goals, who doesn’t? But life does not always go the way we plan. And well, I think God was a little amused with me. You know the saying “Want to hear God laugh? Then tell him your plans.” Yes, I had told God what my plans were, and I heard him laugh a little. God had a plan for my life that looked very different than the one this young girl envisioned.
And that life God had planned for me was better than I could have ever imagined.
One day during the weeks leading up to this birthday, my oldest son and I had a conversation that helped me to shift how I was thinking about the difference I have made in this world and just what I have accomplished. He said to me that I had kept him alive. I had fought for him to get treatment. I had fought for him and fought with him, to get that help. My son told me I was the reason he was alive today. Those words out of his mouth at that moment stopped me in my tracks.
I held my breath at the memory of all we had been through. I held my breath remembering the pain, the fears, the worry. I held my breath at the realization of just how close we came to losing him. I held my breath as I saw just how far he has come and where his life, our life, my life is now.
The tears flowed. My heart swelled. I did not realize the impact I had had on his life these past few years. I did not know what difference I had made.
We don’t always know when we impact another or how we impact another person’s life. We don’t always know the difference we make. Those small steps, the little things that mean something to another human being are not always recognized by us. Maybe it is the smile we give someone. Or maybe a kind word. Maybe it is holding a door, or a kind, understanding look. Talking with someone. A meal. Being vulnerable with others. Maybe it is just listening. So many ways. So many small things that can have a HUGE impact on another person. And maybe even changed a person’s life forever.
Maybe, those are the REAL grand gestures. Maybe those moments are the REAL giant stage from which we make a difference in the world.
I have always believed and strived to live my life with the thought that helping JUST ONE person means I have made a difference. If I could help just one person, then I was doing something. And I hoped that by helping just one, then maybe I was making a difference in this world.
My son made me realize that maybe, just maybe I have done that. At least when it came to his life.
God did not put me on this earth to use a giant stage for grand gestures. That was for the Oprah’s, the Gates’, the politicians of the world.
I was put here for a smaller stage. God put me here to make a difference on a smaller level. One moment at a time. One person at a time.
And that realization changed my thought this past week. I still had a hard time this morning knowing I was now 55. But it wasn’t nearly as hard.
I realized I am living the life I was meant for, the one God had planned for me.
And I am going to live each day to it’s fullest! I decided that this year, 2020, would be about living each day because that is all I really have. I am going to live each day in the moment, embracing all that life has to offer!
After all, I only have 45 more years, which doesn’t seem like much to me until…..
I realize that (when including leap years), I really have 16,436 days left to live.
And 16,436 days is A LOT of time. A LOT of days to live.
I can do A LOT with 16,436 days!