I’m 27 years old today. An age that wasn’t even on my horizon a decade ago when I was at the blissful ‘queen of the world’ age of 17. Long ago, turning a year older was a big deal for me…I used to get so excited about my birthday that I had trouble falling asleep the night before. And it wasn’t because of presents or parties (at least not entirely), but because I was excited about growing up and what the new age held for me. At 8, I thought 12 was big. At 12, I thought 18 was mature. At 18, I thought turning 21 would be a big deal. Every one of those markers have passed and I was always a little taken aback by how similar I felt to when I was at the last ‘marker’ age.
It’s been a while since I’ve been excited about turning a year older *wry grin*. And while maybe part of it may be vanity (I can see how much older I look now compared to even 3, 4 years ago), my decrease in enthusiasm is, perhaps, due more to facing the reality of growing up. Once upon a time, fantasies of what adulthood would be like were of dreams fulfilled with none of the responsibilities life entails. Now that I am an adult, I know only too keenly the sacrifices that one has to make in leaving childhood behind. Compromises one has to make, relationships changing, financial responsibilities, and watching my beloved parents growing older year by year…
As recently as last summer, there was still a part of me that was resistant to growing older, to facing the reality of the ‘grown-up world’. Even back then, I knew it was selfish of me to feel that way…but a part of me loved how I could be mommy’s little girl and not worry about household finances or decisions whenever I was back in Singapore. As independent as I knew I was and could be, that part of me held me back from fully looking forward to the future. But that has changed. My mom’s illness last August made me realize how ephemeral life is, and how much precious time I was wasting by ‘dragging my feet’, so to speak. The time has long passed in which the only ways I can express my gratitude to my parents are by hugs and cards and little gestures. The time has come for me to step up and take charge of my own life, and to take care of them.
I have so much to be thankful for. And I still have so much to learn. So much more love I have to learn to give, so much more wisdom to gather, so many more ways to make little differences that count in the lives of those around me. I remember one late night in 1996 when I was struggling with decisions to make about my future (to apply for scholarships or not? to study theology or something more ‘marketable’? to go to England or the U.S.?)…I still remember my fervent and urgent prayer that night -“Lord, why can’t You just show me what I’m supposed to do? Just tell me, and I’ll do it! Why can’t You just tell me?” (Recalling this now, I can’t help smiling at my 17 yr old self.)
I have since learned a little more about what discernment is…and that the process of discerning His will in my life is often just as important, if not, more so, than coming to know what His will is. Although I have a better idea now of what my future would be like, there is still much uncertainty. But I’m no longer as troubled by not knowing as I used to be. I’m still worried that challenges will come that will be too difficult for me to handle, but I know that living in fear is not an option I want to choose. On this, my 27th Birthday, I wish to remind myself of what it is I do choose: I choose hope over cynicism, I choose faith over fear, and I choose love.
No, I don’t fear growing older. But I do fear not growing as a person as I get older. And so my birthday prayer is that God and you, my family and friends, will help me to live my life in faith, hope, and love. And thank you, for being around for the journey… :)