My Contemplative Heart: It’s my birthday
Yep. It’s my birthday. I am 35 years old today. Besides the white eyebrow hair and the seemingly permanent dark circles under my eyes, I have no complaints. I am living my perfect life: married for almost 15 years to my best friend whom I am still madly in love with, mom to 3 hilarious individuals who are growing into the image of God while my heart sings with joy, and working toward a dream come true of life in ministry. This is a sweet stage of life and I am grateful for the busyness and hectic days that brim with vitality.
For almost 10 years now, it has been my practice to claim the Psalm that corresponds to my age as ‘mine’ for the year. When I feel stumped as to how to pray or when I just want to rest in prayer, I turn to my Psalm for words. And at the end of every year, I look back and see the ways that God has been true to the words in my life. Here are some thoughts on Psalm 34 from this last year…
- “I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” Psalm 34:4-5 This last year was a year that was filled with fear. A year ago, my husband was in the hospital recovering from open heart surgery. I was full of fear. Fear of losing him, fear of being a single mom, fear for his recovery. FEAR. I also felt a great deal of shame. Aren’t Christians told that “Perfect love drives out fear”? So, shouldn’t I feel brave? God was near in this time to comfort me that only His love is perfect; mine will always lack. For me, fear became a driving force toward faith that is removing the shame of imperfections.
- “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing.” Psalm 34: 8-9 In the spring of 2009, I read a book that forever shaped my faith. The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith brought to the forefront the many ways that I didn’t live as if God was good. I was afraid of being abandoned by the ones that I love and by God. I continue to remind myself, and directees that I am blessed to walk with, that God is good. Even when life seems unfair and painful, God’s very nature is good. I am a huge chocolate addict. Chocolate can be created into many things but it is still chocolate. God is experienced in many ways, even painful experiences, but God is always good.
- “The righteous cry out and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all of their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:17-18 In the fall of 2012, our oldest daughter began to complain of headaches and back pain. She is a dwarf and back pain with headaches is a warning sign of compression in her spine. She had surgery at the age of 2 to relieve compression at the base of her skull. Her symptoms in the fall were a panic trigger for me. After an MRI and visit with the neurosurgeon, both commonplace occurrences in her short 10 years of life, we were told that yes there was compression but that the doctors would prefer to wait as long as possible to operate. I was relieved and outraged all at the same time. I don’t want my precious girl to have more surgery and I don’t want her to live with chronic pain. The warring emotions and conflicting desires were crushing my spirit. One afternoon, while she laid on ice to manage the pain, this wise heart that I gave birth to looked at me and said, “Mom, it’s okay. Whether my back hurts or not, I’m going to be okay; God is here.”
I am a blessed woman who is honored to have been trusted with another year to live this beautiful life I have been gifted with. “My tongue will speak of your righteouness and of your praises all day long.” Psalm 35:28