In the grand scheme of things, it's pretty young.
But, I have to admit, I kind of thought I'd be "further along" than this by age 32.
Maybe the 30s are as overhyped as your high school and college days.
Supposed to be the prime of your life, but instead rife with doubt and insecurity and many more questions than answers.
I'm going to be honest. True to the theme of this year, this was one of the worst birthdays of my life. Overwhelmed by the seemingly incessant bumps and bruises we've received this year, my heart feels like it's hanging by a thread. I'm broken.
And so, even as I shudder while I say it: this was one of the best birthdays of my life.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance."
God's doing something in our family right now. And, contrary to what I start to believe sometimes: it's not to be mean, it's not because he doesn't care, it's not even because "we deserve it". It's because He wants us to grow.
And I can't think of anything better than that.
Conflict is hard, and both of us hate it, and avoid it at almost every cost. JT has difficulty saying no to anyone or anything, and while I am slightly more assertive in other situations, I am so in love with him, that I find myself almost completely at his mercy most of the time.
Thankfully, he is quite merciful.
But I have come to the conclusion that, while many things require only waiting, praying, and trusting God- the situations that I am most likely to be challenged are the times when I am called to call out the status quo. To stand up for something I believe. Come out of my comfort zone instead of just going along, for the common good.
We're growing. We've learned things about each other this week that, even after 6 years of marriage, we never knew. We're growing more mature as individuals. We're growing closer as a couple.
We've both felt a lot of pain.
But pain isn't always from an injury. Sometimes it comes from exercising a muscle that you haven't used in a long time (or ever). Sometimes injury comes when you feel no pain at all, and healing can be the most painful experience of your life.
It's always worth it.
I'm thankful to God for this birthday week. For another lonely holiday weekend. For opportunities to be broken, humbled, intensely lonely, afraid, and insecure.
For moments of raw honesty, reassurance, and deep intimacy.
I'm trying to internalize it all. To grow, and remember it, so I can teach it to my children.
I'm learning that when you say no to yourself too many times, you begin to lose important parts of who you are, and that benefits no one. I am keenly aware of the things I am teaching my children about themselves when I am too quick to intervene when they are having their own struggles.
I've stopped calling my youngest son: "baby". He's now my "2nd big boy."
It's been a great week.
The Dude is waist deep in potty training, and finding enormous success (and a few failures, which he has handled with grace). Aquaman is facing down the giants of handwriting, and the even bigger giant of realizing that, though most things have come easily to him, some things will require much more attention.
And many more failures.
And many more failures.
As a family, we are facing and owning up to our many failures. There's an enormous amount of freedom in it.
It's been a hard year. It's been an awesome year.
Someday, I think I will probably look back at this 32 year old birthday as one of the best and most significant of my life.
I'm embracing the freedom, the complications, the complete inadequacy and feelings of isolation.
I'm accepting the difficulties that have come directly from the hands of God, from the evil one, from other people- and most importantly, from myself.
And I'm finding grace.