Today is my 27th birthday. The meaning transcends far deeper than the simple fact that it: represents a whole new year, is an opportunity to celebrate with friends and family, and usually incorporate presents. All of those things are well and good, but none of them come close to what God did for me on my birthday 7 years ago.
I had just graduated from Cosmetology school in Seattle. I had always dreamed of going to Europe, particularly Paris. My sister had the brilliant idea of us going together in celebration of my finishing school. It worked out quite nicely that my birthday fell right in the middle of our trip. Sis and I love birthdays, so we made it a “birthday week”. We celebrated in Paris, Switzerland, Italy, and Spain. But the most memorable celebration of that week took place on the actual date of my birthday in Interlaken, Switzerland.
That day was spectacular.
WE WENT PARAGLIDING!
***DISCLAIMER*** I was very young and silly when I made this video. Don’t judge.
“This is by far the best birthday ever! We went paragliding. It was the most amazing, adventurous and fun thing I have ever done. Now I am on the highest rotating restaurant in the world. 007 was filmed here. This is absolutely amazing and indescribable…”
But more than paragliding, and an adventure through Europe, that day God got a hold of my heart.
“…I have never seen anything so beautiful. I feel so peaceful, content, and close to God. He really made a beautiful place. Something deep inside me knows that when God was making these mountains, He knew that someday I would come here, and find my way back to Him.”
January 8th, 2006 was the day of my redemption.
Here is why…
During my high school years I went through the most excruciating season of my life. By the time I was seventeen I had been to 12 funerals, most of the deceased being friends my age. I began to question God’s goodness and existence altogether. Eventually, I disowned my faith in God, deciding that if He did indeed exist, I wanted nothing to do with Him.
(It grieves my heart inexplicably to even write those words, but it is a part of my story, and I am committed to always write in truth and honesty.)
After high school graduation I moved two states away from my family and everything familiar, and was extremely lonely. When my best friend died of a drug overdose I hit rock bottom and became bitter, broken, depressed, and even suicidal. Anger and resentment began to consume my heart. My life had become the epitome of despair.
The trip to Europe came at a crucial time. I was so lost and broken, that I was willing to give God a try again. I was surrounded by so much majestic beauty, that I knew He had to be real. I opened my heart to the idea of the possibility that even though I had known such sorrow, God was good. More than just good, He loved me – and He knew my name.
I remember sitting across from my sister, and with tears in my eyes said, “For the first time in so many years, I think I believe in God.”
We went outside on the balcony, and my sister led me in a prayer of rededication to my Savior. And then God gave me a birthday present: it started snowing. ☺ (I find snow very miraculous.) I felt like I was on top of the world. Every fear, every doubt I ever had about God melted away. I was finally free.
Something changed in me that day. Joy and peace were instantaneous. Shame was displaced by forgiveness.
I wrote in my journal:
“I can literally feel myself changing. I am going home a completely different person. God has awakened so many dreams in my heart that had been dormant. There are so many things I want to do.”
I made a Bucket List on the plane ride home. Here are a few:
•I want to live in Paris (check – Summer 2011)
•Go to college (check 2010-present)
•Learn French (half-check – my French is abysmal, but I managed to learn some while being there)
•Move to San Diego (check –2006)
•Marry a man who loves Jesus (Okay, so I am still working on that one, but that was a big deal for me to write at the time.)
•I really want to get back into writing. I haven’t done it in so long…I don’t even know if I would still be good at it. (CHECK. I can’t believe it took me 5 years from that time to actually start writing again.)
God is faithful. Even after so many years of living a sinful life, God enabled me to experience dreams that I never thought would come true.
I had spent years running away from God. All it took was one step in His direction, and He came running after me.
If any of you have been running from God, turn around, and start running the other direction. He will meet you where you are.
I was lost, and He found me.
My heart was broken into a million pieces, and He managed to put it back together.
I was guilty, and He gave me freedom.
God received me back to Him with arms wide open. There was not the slightest hesitation in His forgiveness of my sins. That first year was hard; I essentially had to learn what it meant to be a Christian all over again. Yet, God was kind, patient, and ever-forgiving. In the ensuing years, I made it my goal to love Jesus more than the year before. I plan on doing so every year, for the rest of my life.
Today is not just another birthday. It is not just an excuse to spend time with the people I love most in the world. It is definitely not just one more year closer to 30. (SIGH) It is a special day between me and my Savior.
Today is the day I was born again.
So, here’s to turning 27, and another year of loving Jesus. It’s gonna be a good one