The difference a year makes. The difference, two, three… eight. Eight years make a lot of difference when you’re looking back. Today I celebrate the first day of Spring with a type of fondness that surpasses other seasonal beginnings. It is also four days to my 26thbirthday. I’ve always loved the timing of this day in my life.
So today I want to talk a little bit about why that matters.
To fill you in, in case you don’t know: Eight years ago today, I was juggling a lot of things. I had far too much weight on even my seemingly strong, seventeen-year-old shoulders. Worse than that, I was handling it virtually alone. Those closest to me knew I was struggling a little- but I chalked it up to Senior year stress and friends and family listened. In actuality, several traumatic events had built up that were either kept secret or shrugged off. Combined with the actual Senior stress of college, extra-curriculars, a relationship, a job, insecurities and everything else seventeen-year-olds typically deal with it was the perfect storm. As mentioned in previous posts over the years, I came up with a plan to end my life and had the means to execute that plan. Thankfully, the Lord gave some of those close to me the discernment to intervene at just the right moment. (Don’t worry, as you can see, I eventually got the help I needed with a very real wake-up call- counseling and community are great yall.)
As I mentioned, all of this went down four days before my birthday. Not only that, it was four days before my eighteenth birthday. My week was not spent like many would spend their birthday week. That night I had an intervention, the next day I spent a half day at school and then went to a lengthy counseling session, went home, went to school, rinse, repeat. While it seemed strange to celebrate, we did celebrate my birthday that year.
That weekend has caused me to look at my birthday, and birthdays in general in a very unique way. Birthdays matter because life matters. Birthdays let us celebrate the best parts of life but also give us space to reflect on what the previous year has brought. Let’s do that together. My birthday brought together all kinds of people who rallied around me with love and sharing stories of life together- including those who had no idea what just happened.
While those around us should be celebrated, encouraged, and shown love regularly, a birthday is a really special day to really amp up the love and appreciation of those we care about. So don’t think I’m not advocating for regular encouragement, I’m just calling for a little extra on a birthday. There is so much we can celebrate about someone- big or small. That work milestone or self-success? The way they make people smile? How hard they work? The way they care for their family? How they’ve handled difficult situations? I could keep going. So this year, acknowledge the people you’re close to on their birthday. Come alongside someone and invite them to share about the year; what they’ve learned, what their goals and dreams are. Let them know they’re not forgotten, let them know they matter. Even a simple ‘happy birthday’ is enough to make someone’s day. A birthday is a springboard into the next year and season of life. Sometimes it just takes someone from the outside looking in to remind us of the beauty of life and what there is to hold on to and look forward to. We never truly know all of the things someone is carrying with them through their days; I am proof of that.
I want to close with a few lines from one of my favorite spoken word poets and artists, Levi the Poet. It never ceases to bring me to tears. It means something very dear to me as a whole but there are also a couple moments that hit extremely close to home. So take a read (and possibly a listen if you have the time) And THEN Let’s take acknowledgment and the positive start of a new season and bring it into every day with you. Let’s make a habit of showing ourselves, and others that there is something good to hold on to in every day.
“i want to hear about your family.
tell me about your great-grandfather
and how he got through the Great Depression
and tell me how you’ll get through yours.
this moment is a part of it.
i know you need ears to hear that kind of thing and
i know that those kinds of ears are miracles.
i know it’s not as simple as being committed
to either life or death
but i know that there is still breath
in both of our lungs so while there’s still time
to say it:
stay for the wedding.
i swear the first glimpse of her
rounding the corner like a dream
transforms you into nothing and everything
all at the same time.
stay for the reception.
for toasts from friends
whose lives are better off with you
to subject themselves to the small deaths
that all of us experience
when we have to forego our jealousy
and let the lover in.
stay for the wedding night.
like the dichotomies you are
and always have been
You can listen to it all here: Please Stay
P.S. If you’ve read this far and ever celebrated my birthday, life, with me- thank you.
You are someone who has been used to remind me at some low times in life to keep moving forward. Thank you for being there to celebrate and to love and to encourage.
I love you all.