A few years ago, I learned from a dear friend of mine to refer to birthdays as levels. I liked this perspective a lot; it encourages looking at each birthday as an accomplishment of beating the prior level and moving to the next. I liked it, but it never felt exactly like me. Recently, though, I noticed others referring to birthdays as chapters and had my dual "aha" and "duh" moment--of course I would refer to birthdays as chapters!
Here's why I love this idea. From God's perspective, my book is already fully written. I find security in that. I find hope in that. And I also recognize that, from my perspective, there's a lot coming in my story that I don't know. I look back and remember characters who entered my story, both heroes and villains, that I never saw coming. I see surprise leavings and glorious additions. I see despair and l lament. I see hope, grit, determination. I see growth.
We all know 2020 has been [fill in the blank with your preferred descriptive phrase/expletive]. As the truth settled in that I was not going to celebrate this new chapter with a different dear friend for a Harry Potter adventure, I began devising a new plan. While I am sad to not be celebrating in the original way, this new plan, the unforeseen script change if you will, has been a balm for my soul--and there's still more to come!
I decided to take a full week and turn it in to a road trip of re-connection, and I have not been let down. So far this week I've spent in-person, face-to-face, time with people from middle school, high school, a high school missions trip, college, and seminary. In each opportunity, I've relished the immediate re-connection experienced, even when the time span since the last gathering is counted in years. These are special people God brought into my life at significant times, and who continue to appear pages of life. Some with consistency and regularity, others more sporadic; but all with significant contribution to who I am now and to the life I live. And, bonus, I now get to build relationships with their kids!
Most important in it all, is landing where I am right now, at my parent's home. A place of love, generosity, constancy, support, wisdom, and true goodness. The longest leg of my trip is here, and there's good reason for that!
Tonight, people will gather at a Harry Potter themed party (pause: my mom!!! I can't overstate how meaningful it is for her to recognize and bring a bit of it to me since I was unable to go there this year.). It will be fun and more uplifting. I will take many pictures, as I've done this entire week, to capture the joy of these moments.
How does it feel to turn the page to chapter 40? Amazing. Grateful. The exact place I'm supposed to be. Excited. Hopeful.