Ever since I can remember, 30 has been the year I’ve looked up to with starry-eyes. For some reason, I’ve always said that thirty would be “my year.” I don’t really know where these dreams came from, but anyone who knows me knows I’ve looked forward to this year as much as (or more than) Jenna Rink did in the movie 13 Going on Thirty.
Well, folks…30 is here. And all day I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around what 30 means to me.
I’ve always joked that 30 would be the year I’d be “flirty and thriving,” but deep down, it’s always signified much more than a joke to me. 30 always seemed to be the year where I would be able to look back on life with a sense of accomplishment, but also able to look forward to all the things left to come.
Well, so far, the feeling I’ve had all along has been pretty spot-on. 30 feels good. It feels exciting! I mean I’m not really “flirty and thriving” by the world’s standards (unless flirting with my husband counts, and you take into consideration more than just my current svelte figure), but I feel more alive and well in life than I ever have before. (Call me a birthday promoter, but that’s okay! Today’s my jam!) Today I feel pretty proud of all that I’ve accomplished in life, thankful for God’s presence, and extremely excited for what’s to come.
If I could name a theme for today, it would definitely be gratitude. I have so much to be thankful for.
I’m thankful for my family who have always loved and supported me in life. My parents always gave me the room to be myself and to grow, and they’ve given me the tools to succeed with my head held high. I hate that I have to be so far from them, but I know I always have my place at home in New Mexico.
I’m grateful for my friends, both old and new, who have filled my life with inspiration and wholeness. Especially for my older sister Kristin, who has become my best friend in life. (Who’d have thought that when we were at each other’s necks as kids, or when I was just her smaller punk sister, trying to get in on pieces of her life!)
I’m thankful for all the failures. I know this may sound strange, but through my failures, I’ve learned through the years what it means to freely love God. Whenever I’ve fallen in life, it’s almost always been because of my own sinful choices or because I’ve acted on the desire to do things “my way,” apart from God’s goodness and law. Through these failures, I’ve learned what it feels like to be apart from God (and how awful that is), and also learned what it means to turn back to God, freely. Sometimes this process can be grueling. It’s hard to admit when your shortcomings and flaws are rooted in your own selfish decisions. Yet, through the grace of humility, God always offers us a way back. These kind of failures have taught me what it means to cry out to God, to recognize my dependence on him, and to understand that the plans I have for my life aren’t always the best plans. Faith and trust in God is the only foolproof plan for finding true joy in life.
Along those same lines, one of the things I’m most thankful for in life is God’s merciful love. The gift of reconciliation requires two parts (or rather, persons) moving in love toward the other. In all the ways and times I’ve spiritually turned my back on God–choosing to do things my way and in sin, instead of through obedience and love of Him–He’s always been right there, waiting for me with open arms to come back to him. All the ways I’ve managed to reject or throw away His love are enough to bring tears to my eyes. Yet, what is truly weep-worthy is His steadfast, unwavering love for me. The sins I’ve committed in life have only ever proved to bring me sadness, pain, and regret–but God is always there, waiting in the midst of it all, with his merciful love.
I’m especially grateful for the gifts of marriage and motherhood. My vocation as wife and mom has taught me more about myself and how to love than I ever could have learned on my own. Every day I’m challenged to become a better version of myself and to offer my life as a gift to God through those around me. It’s a daily struggle for stubborn, imperfect, unholy, and selfish ME. But it’s the greatest calling I’ve ever had. Though I still have a long journey to make on the road to sainthood, I get to make it with an incredible husband, and children who light up my life.
I’m thankful for the faith, and for the education I’ve gained in the faith. I have always had a deep love for Catholicism, and Christ has opened up so many doors for me to learn more about my beautiful faith. I have big hopes for all the things yet to come, but mostly I hope that He’ll use me to spread the light of his love to those who don’t know Him or who want to know Him better.
I’m so thankful that Christ has increased my love for his beautiful Mother and for the lives of so many saints–especially Saint John Paul the Great, Saint Therese of Lisieux, Saint Monica, Saint Padre Pio, and Saint Peter. These and other saints continuously open my eyes to see what it means to love God without reservation.
Finally, I am so thankful for the understanding God has given me of who I am. He’s done a lot of work in this area in these last couple of years of my life, especially at times when I’ve questioned my worth more than ever before. About a year and a half ago, I started to get really down on myself. Somewhere along the way I hit a wall where I was unsure of every move I made, and critical of so many of my own characteristics and personal traits. I was struggling to understand my purpose in life, and feeling like what I had to offer my family, friends, the world, and my God weren’t enough. All of these feelings became a huge barrier for me in growing in my faith and love for God. This negative inward focus prevented me from becoming the gift that God wants me to be to the world. Is it even okay to say that? Is it okay to admit that God wants each and every one of us–including me–to become a gift to others? I wasn’t trusting the uniqueness I had to offer the world, and I wasn’t fully aware of how deeply God cherished me. I was looking at myself through a dirty and negative lens, and it took a lot of God’s good grace for me to see that the only person that lens belonged to was the Devil. He’s the One who whispers in our ears the ugly lies that we are worthless; that we don’t measure up; that we aren’t good; that we are broken; that we have nothing to offer the world. He digs the holes of insecurity as deep as we let him, and if it weren’t for God’s good grace, I’m not sure where I would’ve ended up.
Last year Jesus taught me that my self-worth isn’t rooted in what I accomplish in life, in how “good” I am at the jobs he’s given me, or in how I measure up in the eyes of others. Rather, my worth comes solely from his love. It’s wonderful to have dreams and goals (and undoubtedly a great feeling when success is found in them), but they really only make sense and have true beauty when they are rooted in His love and goodness. My true purpose in life is to live out my life as his daughter. Everything else is just “icing on the cake.”
I don’t know what the next years of my life will bring, but I know that if I allow God the room to do half of what he’s done for me in these last 30, the rest of my life will be an exciting journey with Him.