The Everyday Girl Guide to: Having a Birthday (Consider the Alternatives)

September 24, 2014

I turned 43 today.  I’m pretty happy with reaching this milestone and, although I joke about being younger, I have no issues with admitting my age.  In fact, I have a hard time understanding those who get depressed when another birthday rolls around.  “Grump, grump, whine, mope.  I’m older.  I’m greying.  I’m wrinkling.”  Have you considered the alternative to all that is dying?  Having a birthday is a cause for celebration in any society where life is appreciated.  We’re spoiled.  We want to reach a century in perfect condition.  Worse, we want to do it without any sacrifice.

I’m pretty blessed to look younger than my age.  I also weigh (within a few pounds, depending on the day) what I did in high school.  Some of this is good genetics.  Some of it is circumstance.  A lot of it, though, is hard work, research, and a little self-sacrifice.

I like yummy food as much as the next person.  So do my hips and thighs.  I’m not terribly fond of drinking as much water as I should; I’d rather drink something else.  Taking the time to apply lotion after every single shower is, really, a pain in the backside.

I don’t do all these things so much for appearance’s sake (although I have a touch of vanity about exactly how many silver hairs I’m hiding and how visible the laugh lines around my eyes are becoming).  I do it because I still have young children and I want to be able to continue to play tag in the waves, hike all day (and carry the youngest if necessary), and wrestle with at least a prayer of winning.  In fact, I want to be able to do those things with their children.  I do it because this body is a temple and I want to be healthy enough to go and do what God wants me to do.

We’ve become a society of “give me now”.  Sacrificing for later, whether financially or sensually, is totally foreign to our collective makeup.  The word “wait” appears in the NIV version of the Bible 129 times; Noah worked on the ark for an unknown period of time, then spent over a year on the ark itself.  Moses and the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years and only Caleb and Joshua got to enter the Promised Land.  (Yeah, let that one sink in.)  Jacob worked seven years for Rachel and got Leah instead, so he turned around and worked another seven years for Rachel.

We’ve forgotten patience.  I’ve never been good at it in the first place, but my surrounding seem determined to undermine what self-control I have.  BUY NOW! USE CREDIT!  or TAKE A PILL AN INSTANTLY LOSE 30 POUNDS!  or GET SURGERY TO FIX EVERYTHING.

I want to make this my year of patience, waiting, and sacrifice.  I want to appreciate each item I own because I worked for it.  I want to go for an eight-mile hike without collapsing because I spent time in the gym working the muscles needed to get up and down those hills.  I want to hold off on a purchase because I’d rather pay cash than use readily available credit.   I want to learn to consider waiting a blessing, a time to appreciate other things, rather than something to be fidgeted over.

Maybe in the waiting I’ll learn to spend the time appreciating what I already have.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope

Psalm 130:5

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