Age 13. Celebrate the world of teenagehood.
Age 16. Celebrate the world of teenagehood even more.
Age 18. Adulthood, I suppose?
Age 21. You’re at a bible college; this birthday is kind of mute.
The big birthdays are just a little extra fun. Celebrating landmarks, golden birthdays, you name it. For me, the biggest birthday is coming up.
Age 25. Your brain will be fully developed; your seizures may be gone by then.
I have been told this by my doctors since I was a child. It felt so far away; but I clung to it. I used to secretly imagine spending my 25th birthday at the DMV getting my driver’s license, where I would then drive home past all of my friends’ houses honking and laughing. What a birthday it would be.
Of course, the older I got, the more I realized doctors were giving me a generalized timeline, not an exact moment in time. But it didn’t matter; 25 meant something to me and I would hold onto it with everything that I had.
In 2 days, that far-off birthday will arrive and I’ve been working hard to laugh it off. But I kind of want to skip it.
Because I know I will not be at the DMV.
Landmarks are good; they give us things to celebrate. They give us goals to work toward. But sometimes, those landmarks come and go and we aren’t where we want to be.
Maybe you’re like me and there is a part of your life that isn’t what you planned. Maybe you wanted to be married by 22, and you aren’t. Maybe you wanted to lose 10 pounds in 2016, and you didn’t. Maybe you wanted to overcome an addiction, but you haven’t.
You set goals, you anticipated landmarks, yet nothing seems different. Two steps forward, 4 steps backward. Repeat.
Something must be wrong with me, you think. What if I had tried harder? What if I had done better? What if this never changes? What if…what if…what if…
I guess in those moments we get to choose. Do we push forward, or do we give-up? Do we surrender, or do we cling tighter? Do we embrace the shame, or lean into grace?
In scripture, these landmarks are marked with stones. These stones represent a work that God has done and are placed “so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” (Joshua 4:24). In churchy terms, they are referred to as “stones of remembrance.”
From my perspective, getting my driver’s license on my 25th birthday would be a stone of remembrance; the perfect landmark reminding me of all that God has done. The end of a long journey.
But I have been feeling led lately, with great frustration, to place a different kind of stone on my 25th birthday. It’s a stone I don’t want to place; a stone I don’t want to accept. A part of me I don’t want to remember.
It is a stone that does not say “what if”, but a stone that says “even so.”
I am turning 25 in two weeks and my seizures are not gone.
Even so, God is good.
Even so, God is working.
Even so, God is faithful.
My body is not healed; I am not where I long to be.
Even so, I am loved.
Even so, I am enough.
Even so, God has led me thus far and will lead me still.
I used to think stones of remembrance were intended to mark the completion of a journey; the celebration of the end. But the more I have thought about it, I’ve begun to see that they were actually placed on the journey along the way. They were reminders that God would fulfill His promises to His people. They were reminders that He had not forgotten them; that He was working and tangibly moving even in the midst of impossible circumstances.
I will grieve in the not yet, I am weary in the waiting, but I want to choose to see the work of God’s mighty hand and surrender this stone to Him as I continue the journey.
If you too are still on a journey that you thought would have ended a long time ago and you are growing weary, if you are not where you long to be, I stand with you. It’s scary, painful, and discouraging and I am right there with you. And as the landmarks come and go, as the “what ifs” creep into the depths of our hearts, may we find the stone that says “even so”.
Push forward, surrender, and lean into grace.
We are not where we long to be.
You are seen. You are known. You are loved.