Today is my birthday. A birthday is a significant marker in time and its significance is not lost on me. I get a little reflective when this day rolls around, ranging from excitement to sadness, from joy to shame. I suppose that’s typical for most people. My main thought of late has been, “I’ve had 33 years, and this is how far I’ve come? This is what I’ve done with my life?” Surely I should be farther along. But I’m not. And I think I’m OK with that. I’ve tried to be obedient to the days and years my Father has given me. Mostly. Well, maybe mostly. And I believe that I’ve been following where He’s told me to go. But some places He’s brought me haven’t been very enjoyable or productive. There’s nothing to show but the scars and marks of trudging through a deep valley. And even then, often I’m the only one who sees those.
So my internal monologue, “This is how far I’ve come?” can turn to, “This is where You’ve led me? What are you thinking, God?” It can turn to anger and bitterness. If suffering is pointless, this is where I would stay. If God is a vindictive being with a power trip, rage is the appropriate response. But suffering isn’t pointless and God actually does love me.
Suffering is not something we put down in Christmas letters or biographical bylines. We put down our best achievements…or at least how we like to define that. We want people to see all the great and grand things we’ve done, all that we’ve accomplished in the short years we walk this earth and in doing so we sell ourselves short. If I measure my life against these false ideas of what makes someone great, that’s where my personhood and identity come from. It’s dehumanizing.
I am more than what I create, be it flimsy or grandiose. I am more than my sufferings, be they trivial or overwhelming. I’m an adopted son of God, the apple of my Father’s eye. And I’m more than OK with that.