Last year, on my 25th birthday, I told my family that it would be my "Name it and claim it," year. I wanted a boyfriend and a full time job. I was kidding--mostly. But I was terrified to turn 25. I was still getting used to NYC, half way through my grad program, and for the first time without my grandfather, who had been my birthday buddy since I was born. I didn't seriously believe that I could name and claim things that symbolized security to me, but I certainly felt that if I could manage to get them, I would have found some measure of control in my life.
I'm turning 26 tomorrow, and I have neither a boyfriend nor a full time job. Periodically throughout the year my family or a friend would ask how the claiming it was going, and I'd respond with a laughing, "Only a couple months left... Gotta get moving!" But as my birthday drew closer, and I found myself in one of the most challenging seasons I've yet experienced, I began to ponder my words in a different light.
During January and February, I often felt like the widow in the book of Second Kings, putting her hand into the jars of oil and flour and finding just enough. Never more than she needed, but always enough. Through those slow, quiet winter months, when my physical longing for spring reflected the longing in my soul for direction and an understanding of where I'm meant to be, I began to learn truly what it means to wait on the Lord. To pray, "Give us this day our daily bread," and to know how dependent I am on God's provision--that had a profound impact on my soul.
I am blessed to have known that my parents, and others in my life, would have caught me if I'd fallen. I still don't know where I'll be come Fall, but I know that I have good work to do until then. And I can see already that wherever I end up in life, and whatever amount of physical security I attain, this moment in my life is going to affect me forever; when I was poor, and God provided. When I was unsure, and he told me to wait. When I learned to accept the lovingkindess of others, so that someday I can recognize and offer it myself.
Going into this new birthday year, I'm going to continue to claim. But rather than making a joke of it and claiming things beyond my control, I am claiming the promises I know I have been given. I am not promised happiness, but I am promised joy. I am not promised a spouse, but I am promised fellowship with God's people, and the boundless mystery and majesty of fellowship with God himself. I am not promised prosperity, but I am promised that my name is written on his hands. If that's the case, what have I to fear?
I did not get a boyfriend or a full time job this year. But what I did get was this: evenings on my rooftop, praying with the stars as my companions. Crying with my family, laughing with my roommates. Watching the slow rose fill the sky during summertime sunrises, and paint the tracks orange and purple during Autumn sunsets. Opening my heart and eyes to hard work, the twist of knowing I made a bad decision, the gratefulness of heartache, and more sticky fingerprints pressed into my heart. The hush of winter, the joy of knowing that sometimes, all it takes is to sit quietly, and that's enough. The knowledge that I'm not waiting for anything, that my life doesn't start in a year, or five years, or when I know where I'll live long term, or when I find someone to be with. It is now, in the confusion and the delight.
These are the things I had this year. This year and every year, these things are enough.
A Long Obedience in the Same Direction
Eugene H. Peterson
The Devil in the White City
Peter A. Pitzele