Being the gift

If you ask me most days whether I want to be married, I will tell you how I came to be here–at the place where I don’t want to be married if my marriage would take me away from God.

The road to that proclamation has not been smooth, and at times, it has been brutal. I’m grateful for that, because the brutality is what broke me open to surrendering that area to God. I saw His power, because I didn’t have power to cope with it on my own, and my own will was getting me nowhere. Until I hated what my sin/lack of surrender brought enough, I didn’t surrender. I deprived myself of peace.

But that doesn’t mean that birthdays, milestones, family reunions, and holidays don’t sometimes hold a special sting. Each year, you think “maybe this will be the year my life changes” or “I wish I had someone to spend [fill in the holiday] with.” And then oh, there’s always the not mattering. The feeling of your life not really mattering cuts the deepest.

I can’t get over how patient God is with me through these times because you do have to walk through them. Repressing them in a faked-trust deprives us of real trust.

On last year’s birthday eve, I slept outside, pouring my little heart out to God, and then thanking Him in faith for the waiting. I was faceplanted on our concrete slab. He sent the brightest shooting star I’ve ever seen streaking across the sky. It felt like He drew me out there just for that moment, the streak of light saying “you’re not alone. I see you and I love you. You are not forgotten. Happy birthday. You matter so much to me that I would have a star fall across the sky for you”

This year, I’ve stepped out in some little ways. I used some gifts. But sometimes, your soul longs to hear the words…the affirmation of who you are, not what you’ve done or what you can do. It hasn’t been a year of much affirmation. In fact, it’s been a year of excruciating conflict. So yeah, I floundered there for awhile.

What was beautiful about this weekend was the way God flip-flopped my desire for affirmation/selfish mood into a sincere desire to Be the Gift (yeah, it’s a small kind of miracle that the two year old post came spinning back to me). It was truly a blessing to have the key to a friend’s house and usher in my birthday by surprise-cleaning her house. It was a blessing to go to work and share my birthday with my extended family of residents–and to hear a woman say several times “thank you for saying that” and “I needed to hear that.” It was a blessing to let gentleness trump previous conflict. It was a blessing to love and appreciate friends who posted on my Facebook wall, pouring out love.

What if all of life is supposed to be about “being the gift” (-Ann Voskamp)? What if the truest act of worship is just opening up our hands when we want to have them clenched in fists, clenching objects, clenching people? What if God isn’t filling us so that we’re full, but filling us so we pour out?

What has been crazy about the last couple days is how much love I’ve had doing the simple things and how selfless intentions have emerged…and that is ALL God. I’ve learned that love doesn’t depend on merit or worthiness of the other person (interacting with certain difficult patients with love). We still love because love still comes from God, no matter who the person is or what they’ve done. We don’t love because we want attention. We love because God is in us, and our attention is on him. And because we love, we serve. It is truly a joy.

The paradox I found this year is that my life matters so much more to me when other people matter more to me.

I’m thankful for a God who writes, because His words come back to me through poetry that He had me write in the lonely times. How beautiful is that kind of worship? Waiting is about learning to trust, and I am definitely learning to trust. It truly was a happy birthday

And some encouragement for that birthday/holiday you’re dreading

Ann Voskamp Be The Gift


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