This weekend I celebrated my 38th birthday. Wow. I was not particularly looking forward to this event, and started preparing myself at least a month prior. My inner thoughts went something like this:
“Nicole, you are turning 38. Don’t freak out.”
And thankfully, I didn’t. Instead, I was treated to lunch by a good friend, then dined with another at dinner where I shared my special day with her 21-year-old daughter. Can I just say, I can’t believe people are still turning 21 these days? I found it prominently strange that my friend and I (and her other guests) were on the other side of 35, yet there are people out here (her daughter included) still being born after the 1990s. Crazy. I know I probably feel this way because I myself do not have children, nor do I teach children like some of my friends. For the most part, I am surrounded by the 30-something crowd and older (while one late 20-something inconspicuously made it into my fold). So, being the “elder” at this birthday table was a thing that I found humorous and….well….weird.
But the fact is, ready or not, I am now lumped into the “older generation.” Maybe not the old generation, yet (at least, not according to everyone who is older than me). But definitely old-er. To put it this way, as my father said, “You are no longer a young adult. Instead, you are fully grown.”
Indeed dad. Indeed.
So, on my actual birthday, I traveled 3 and a half hours south to see my girls. The ones I picked up in college, and never put back down. The ones I’ve been doing life with for 19 years now. The ones who are single, in their late 30s, with no children. The ones who love Jesus so much that they live each day in that space of—
God I’m here, but what are You doing?”.
The ones that get it…
In typical fashion, my sisters showered me with love and care. They had a table dressed with beautiful decor at the place we had dinner at. We enjoyed our drinks and dessert, while upbeat jazz numbers sizzled in the background. When the waiter brought out my cookies with ice cream and a candle, everyone in the lounge sang Happy Birthday—Covid-19 masks and all. I was so blessed. Subsequently, we took the “after party” to my friend’s house, where they lavished me with gifts wrapped in love. At 38, I am still being spoiled…
In the morning, we celebrated Easter with a fantastic brunch filled with assorted delicious sides for our lamb. We continued dining on conversation and deep fellowship well into mid-morning. I was inundated with fellowship…
And I have been, for the last, almost 20 years now. I have been blessed to have found an outlet for the current of life, in my friendships. These women have adopted me into their hearts and named me their sister. They say the word so effortlessly and fill it with a grace that smooths out my broken edges and difficult ways. They have been the very sponges to polish my jarring weaknesses. They have been God’s hands to uphold me in the midst of trauma, loss, heartbreak, and pain.
I do not deserve them, but have so desperately needed them…
It’s wild to be in the place of the “late 30s”, and it would be wilder without them standing with me. I have found myself looking back and being so thankful for all that God has done these last 19 years since giving my life to Him. There have been so many accomplishments, so many wonderful opportunities, and I have realized that (by the miraculous grace of Jehovah) I have become exactly the woman I wanted to be, all those years ago. And even more so, I believe, I have become the woman He wanted me to be.
One of the greatest gifts I received yesterday, was a conversation with my dad (you know you’re old when the gifts you appreciate the most, aren’t tangible, LOL). Our relationship has been more like a roller coaster ride over the years, rather than a sailboat smoothly sailing out to sea. Graciously, the Lord has blessed us with time/opportunity to redeem/restore what was either lost, or stolen.
I am thankful.
In our conversation, my father affirmed me and confirmed what was stirring in my heart: my life has been amazing, and its been that way, because I followed Him. God showed me the path of life as a late teen, and positioned me just right so that the good things He had for me would overtake me. Over, and over again…
The last few days I have spent time in reflection and preparing myself for what is to come. The time we spend in this life seems to eek by, day by day (especially when you are called to longsuffering) but in hindsight, it is a jet, flying fastly in the wind. I am now thinking about who I want to be in the next 10-15 years. Who do I want to be by 50? Before this moment, I only considered what it is that I wanted, but now, I realize, who I am is even more important, because identity, character, and mindset are what truly lasts (spoken like a true older person, I know, I know…).
Out of all of the work God has done in me since my 19-year-old (naïve) self said, “yes” to His call, what I treasure the most, is the gift of His maturity. Truly, maturity breeds wisdom, and wisdom allows one to avoid certain pitfalls of pain that could detour us from our destiny. I know without His guidance I would have been stuck in a loop of unhealthy, toxic relationships, swirling around mindlessly like a hamster on a wheel. I am thankful that, in spite of my own weaknesses and difficulties, I am still on track for my destiny. And even if I never accomplish one more thing, I feel completely satisfied by all that has been, on this journey with Him.
There are still many things I look forward to of course, and hope for. But for the first time in several years, the beautiful thing that I can now, finally say, is that, I have hope. Hope for the future, and gratefulness for the past.
I pray you have the same, and if you do, guard it fiercely. And if you don’t, just keep living…
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning. -Psalm 30:5
Thank you for sharing in this life experience with me, as I continue evolving into the Father’s manifest expression in the earth.
In other news, I am gearing up for the release of my new book and finalizing the touches on my website! Stay tuned…