Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Gonna Party Like It's Yo Birfday

So here I sit on the eve of my 23rd (cough, cough) birthday and I thought I would share some deep insights with you. :)

I love parties. I LOVE PARTIES. Love them. The first one I remember was when I was five or six and it was at McDonald's.  Just for the record, have any of you seen that nasty picture floating around out there about how chicken mcnugget's are made?



Gross, right?  Curse you Ronald McDonald.

I remember the party well.  Well, at least the tour part.  Watching how the machine squirted out mustard and ketchup was pretty fascinating.  Although years later during my two week stint working at Wendy's, that little lesson did not serve me well.  I digress.  Anyway, that was my first memory of a party.

When I turned 13 my mom had a surprise party for me.  Sadly, I knew about the party seeing as how I found an invitation in her bible.  My BF Anne and I planned our outfits and dreamt about this first boy/girl party. That week leading up to the party would be the longest of my life. Finally, the night came and I pulled out my best half-white/half-stonewashed jeans out and tried to act unassuming.  If you don't know me, I'm very subtle and poker-faced.  At the time, I also resembled Napoleon Dynamite. I was quite the attractive middle-schooler.

So I walked in after having had to go with a family member to get ice and "Surprise!!"  Such fun.  I spent the evening for once not feeling awkward and dancing away with friends as we watched videos of New Kids on the Block (oh yeah!).  What happened next somehow became a defining moment in my life that had too much power for way too long.  I was talking about how cute Joey from NKOTB was when someone said, "I don't know why you would say that because he would never look at someone like you."  Something happened inside me that night that felt like death.  Years later I realized how words can bring life and words can bring death.  In that moment I wish I had laughed it off, but I chose to store it in my heart and allow it to become a truth that would be the thorn in my flesh for years to come.  This person had only stated what I feared to be true of myself and somehow made my suspicion fact.

I believe this was the last time I would ever be excited about a party for me.  Year after year as I celebrated in different ways, I never fully embrace my birthday.  My family was amazing and friends in college really made each year hilarious.  For my 21st birthday, my girl friends had 21 different guys hand me flowers as I walked into dinner.  They celebrated me and it was so much fun, but inside I always thought that maybe they were all just being nice.  After college when I joined staff and was away from home, staff teams and friends would celebrate me and I would wonder if they were just being nice and felt obligated.

The past six years I haven't really wanted to celebrate, due to not wanting anyone to feel "obligated" to come.  Which leads me to the journey I have been on the past year, almost to the day.  Jesus said, "Beth, let's deal with some of this stuff.  This insecurity.  This wound that you have chosen to respond to in an unholy and unhealthy way for years."  Oh my goodness has it been terrifying.  I have and continue to look at these areas of vulnerability and wonder if redemption and healing will ever fully come.  I know it will, but sometimes healing is quick, but more often than not healing is slow and painful and happens in stages. Why? Because I think we need to remember that the process of the healing is just, if not more important than the actual end result.  I wanted to write this blog tonight and tell you about how I have arrived.....tie up this journey with a nice, pretty little bow and then give you three steps for how you too can find healing.  Nope. Here I am to say that on the eve of another birthday, that I am still a mess, but a loved mess and a joy-filled mess and how overcome I have been with HIS kindness this week.  I decided back in November that I wanted to live a better story.  One with courage and joy and one that would require risk and while it may not seem like a big deal to you as a reader, I decided that I wanted to celebrate my birthday.  I had an 80's skating party on Sunday and I didn't know if anyone would come.  I knew my family and a handful of friends would come, but would people feel obligated?  It was that same old wound festering it's ugly head, only this time I got mad and decided to face my fear head on.  Well, even though 20 or so people couldn't make it last minute, over 60 did.  I don't think 60 people felt obligated.  I think they had fun and I had fun and I think my world expanded a little and I felt a little more brave and a little piece of me was healed.

So as I sit here with an 1 1/2 hours before I turn 23 (eye-roll), would you pray for me?  Would you pray I would continue to be brave? That I would continue to grow in my joy and hope in the Lord?  And would you do something for me?  Would you choose to be brave in an area of your life where you have operated out of fear for far too long?  That would be the greatest birthday gift you could give me.   I love you all! Thanks for journeying with me and for caring.

Beth