Thirty

Today I turn thirty. I had big plans for my birthday, as mentioned in my last blog. Not only are those plans not coming true, no plans are happening today. Both my son and I are sick, so celebrations plans have had to be postponed.  The one thing I most wanted to do on this milestone of a birthday, besides spending it with friends, was to thank my friends and let them know what they mean to me. So I am going to do that. This originally started out as a speech for my imagined party, but given the circumstances I thought I would share it here. The upside? You won’t see me cry as I try to get through it.

My life at thirty is totally different then I had ever planned, and it is better than I could have imagined, in large part because of the friends that have come into my life. At thirty I think I am finally comfortable in my own skin, and that is in due in large part to the people I am lucky enough to call friends. While there have been many people who have influenced my life in big and small ways over the last 7 years, these have had the largest impact on getting me to where I am now. I am going to list them in order of how long I have known them.

Justin- You are one of the few friends that carried over from my “other life” We have know each other since Jr. High, that is a long time to know someone. We haven’t always been close or even kept in touch. But you were there for me at my darkest moments. You were the only friend who walked with me through my divorce, who saw the good, the bad and the ugly. Who always listened, and never judged. For this I will be forever grateful.

Lia- You are an answer to prayer, literally. I needed a friend so desperately and I prayed and prayed for one. I wasn’t so sure about you at first, but I am so glad I took the chance. You have been the most amazing friend I could imagine. You have been with me through all the ups and downs of figuring out my new life. You always have a listening ear, encouraging words, and good advice. You always tell me how you are praying for me, and that means the world to me! I can’t imagine doing life without you.

Henry- If Lia was an answer to prayer, you were the answer to a prayer I didn’t know I prayed. For the last few years I have seen you more often that anyone else in my life, other than my family. There is something about seeing someone that often, you can’t hide. You see each other’s ups and downs and everything in between. Somewhere in the middle of nursing school you became more than just a friend; you became family. Watching out for me AND making fun of me, in true big brother fashion. You kept me from losing my sanity. Thank you for walking through life with me.

Elizabeth- When I met you I was in a lonely place in life, I felt like I just didn’t fit in anywhere. Then I met you; the crazy tattooed lady. And with some other friends we spent the summer just doing life together. No one cared that I was a single mom with a crazy kid, and for the first time since my divorce I felt accepted. I felt like I fit. You have seen me fall apart more than anyone else on this list, (which may only be twice, but still) you have seen me cry and eat Oreos off your floor. You have always been willing to watch my son when I need it, and have always opened your home to me. Thank you for being there when I need you.

Cara- Honestly, when I first met you I was a little intimidated by you. You were beautiful, funny, and confident. All things I didn’t feel I was. But as I got to know you, I couldn’t help but like you, you were real and honest and kind. As we became friends your confidence started to rub off on me, and not only was I no longer intimidated by you, I started to be less intimidated by other people and situations. You helped me learn to not take myself so seriously, to lighten up and have some fun. I needed that so much, thank you.

Aundria- When we started talking I had no idea what I was getting myself into! I have never become so close of friends with someone so quickly. But just like with everyone else on the list it was obvious that God had brought us into each other’s lives for a reason. After Baby was born, it may have seemed like I was helping you; but really you were helping me. You helped me see a purpose for my story, as I was able to use it to help you. I love your blatant honesty; it has helped me to be honest and real with you and with others. Thank for sticking with me, even when I could only be your Sunday friend.

The most amazing thing about this list is that, except one, none of these people were in my life just 5 short years ago. If that doesn’t give me hope for what the next 5 years hold, I don’t know what will.

Sameness

I write when there is something I need to get out. A thought, or an idea that just can’t be kept in, that has to be shared. Something that is real. Something that might help someone else. Not because I have all the answers, but because knowing you are not alone is half the battle.

I have had multiple thoughts and ideas lately, but when I start to think them through, I realize I have already written about them, and I have nothing new to say about them. This seems to be the story of my life right now. Sameness.

I had big plans for this year. I was going to graduate, find the perfect job as an OB nurse, save a little money, and move into a place of my own.  You know with a real kitchen, separate bedrooms, and (dare I dream) a bathtub. I was going to get my things out of storage and decorate for Christmas with ALL my decorations. Then I was going to have all my friends over for a dinner party for my 30th birthday. It was going to be wonderful.

But, as they say, life is what happens when you are busy making plans. I graduated. (YAY!) I got a job as a caregiver for my grandma. And I am still live in my tiny “studio” apartment. I can almost taste the disappointment. I can feel the walls closing in. The apathy of depression seeping in around the edges.

Change can be difficult. Sameness, when you are expecting change may be even more difficult. I am finding it hard to be grateful. I know in my head that I am so blessed with what I have. But in my heart I just want to be somewhere else.

Thanksgiving came and went, and I tried to make my November thankful posts on Facebook. But I only made a few. I know I have lists and lists of things to be thankful for, but I just couldn’t make many heartfelt spontaneous declarations of thankfulness. Now Christmas is upon us, my favorite time of the year, and I am just not feeling joyful. Yes I am aware that joy is a choice, but sometimes feeling it is good too.

My pastor taught on generosity last week, (If you think you have heard every sermon on giving that you ever need to hear, you haven’t.  Listen here. 12/1) and he drove home the point that even the poorest of us here are SO rich. Point taken. Then we started this Advent for Orphans calendar, where you put specified amounts of change in a jar for things such as: # of bibles or games you own, # of eggs in the fridge or cans of food in he pantry, or # of carpeted rooms in your house. I may only have one room, but it is carpeted, and heated. Has lights and running water, hot water even.

Nothing like perspective to make you feel like a ridiculously selfish spoiled brat. Perspective may not immediately change how I FEEL, but changing how I THINK is a start.  I may still want something different, but I can also be content with what I have.

In the midst of all the disappointing sameness I need to remember that there is a comforting sameness. The same God who has gotten me through the last 7 years, is the same God who is going to get me through the next 7 years. I have believed steadfastly that he has a plan for me, that he has the perfect job waiting, that he brings good things to those who wait. He stays the same, even when he doesn’t do things in MY timing. He stays the same.