It is nearly midnight as I write this and in a few minutes I will start another year in my life. I realise that so much happened since my last birthday and it seems like such a long time ago. As I had mentioned in my post last year, birthdays are special days for me. They remind me that I have been gifted with yet another year when I look back on the year that has passed, I always realise that I have so much to be grateful for. Even though the past year was a very difficult one, there is so much I have to be thankful for but this post is only about three of these things.
Especially today, I am very thankful for my mother. Not just because she gave me life but because she not only carried me in her body for nine months but has since carried me in her heart and her prayers. She has always been one of my strongest supporters and encouragers, even when I was growing up.
There were times last year when I thought I would completely break under the trials, hurt and pain that I was facing – both emotionally and physically. There was one person I could talk openly with and share what was on my mind, who listened without judging and was always there for me. As many of you know, I lost my father last summer. Watching my mother deal with his loss and with life without him is very inspiring. Although one would think that she has enough on her hands with just that, she has been there for me in my struggles, spending hours on the phone encouraging, solacing and sometimes just listening to me (and even missing her dinner because of our long calls!!). This is definitely not something that I take for granted just because she is my mother.
And because of the tremendous support that she has been for me especially since last summer, I couldn’t think of anything lovelier than to spend this birthday with her. I think the last time I celebrated my birthday with her was probably in 2001. Unfortunately due to my knack for making some mistakes over and over again (this is the topic for another blog), this didn’t happen. By the time I realised my mistake, it was too short notice and way too expensive to fly down and be with her. Needless to say it broke my heart since I would have loved to have spent some time with her.
Thank you mummy for your selfless love, for the pillar of support and strength you are for me; for never judging or putting this crazy, unconventional daughter of yours into a box; for encouraging all the crazy dreams I had; for not being perfect but for loving me with an unconditional love. Thank you for being more of a best friend than a “traditional” mother and it saddens me that I cannot spend this day with you.
Especially today I am so grateful for the city that I call home – Stockholm. I have said it often, there is no other city in the world where I have ever felt more at home than here (and I have travelled quite a bit). When I realised that I wouldn’t be able to spend my birthday with my mother, there was no other place that I wanted to be than in Stockholm. I wanted to take my wounded heart to a place where I knew that I would find healing and solace, which often is “home”. So I was glad that I could arrange to be here on such short notice and that it wasn’t too expensive. People are often puzzled why I call this city my home when I lived here for “only” two years. Sometimes its difficult to explain what this city means to me. It is a beautiful city but what makes it home for me is the friends that I have here and the way I am treated here, which is as a normal human being. In this city, the colour of my skin, my size, my nationality or the fact that I am a woman does not matter – what matters is the person that I am. As I have mentioned elsewhere, the friendships that I formed in the two years I lived here have grown deeper over the years and withstood the test of time and distance. This is something that I don’t have in the countries where I have lived MUCH longer. Ever since I returned to Germany in 2013, I have tried to be in Stockholm every 6-8 weeks. I need these trips to see my friends and to “recalibrate” myself, as I put it. I need it to remind myself of who I am because it was when I lived here that I finally “found” myself and found the strength to be the person that I am. I also found the courage to wear bright colours and beautiful big earrings (thanks to the loving and patient encouragement of a dear friend here!) and knew that no one would put me into a box because of what I wore. It was also in Stockholm that I finally found a church where I was encouraged to be the woman God has called me to be, where I could finally use the talents that I have even within the church, where I learnt what a “healthy” christian life looks like (yet another topic for an entire post).
The last year was a tough one for me where relationships are concerned. It was a period of tremendous hurt and pain and it was a tough decision not to let it all harden my heart and make me bitter. It also came from people I least expected it from; from people I had stood by and stood up for but who in turn didn’t do the same; people who I had spent a lot of time, energy and even money in. And in the midst of all the hurt and pain, I realised that it was my friends in Stockholm who stood up for me, were there for me when they finally heard about what I was going through, even going to the extent of offering me a place in their homes if I wanted a “haven” to escape to. It is these friendships that remind me that I am not alone in the way I think; that there are others who share similar values and who believe in standing up for them. They showed me that there are people who put words like care, love and friendship into actions. I could go on about the amazing people in Stockholm who I am blessed to call my friends but that too is a topic for another post.
So I thankful for all my friends here in Stockholm and I am glad that I can meet some of them this time even though it was at such short notice. Thank you for loving, seeing and accepting me for the person I am and for keeping me grounded. Thank you for the healing that your friendship brings, thank you for restoring my faith in humanity and in friendships. Thank you for all that you do for me – I often think that I “get back” so much more than what I “invest” in my friendships here. Thank you Stockholm for letting me be the person I am and for treating me like a “normal” human being. And I will continue my efforts to move here physically again and live here more “permanently”.
Especially today I am very thankful for my “little” puppy Jaden, who is not only a handful and can be pretty exhausting but who brightens my life with his antics and reminds me that every day is a gift from God. I have said it often – Jaden is nothing like the puppy I had always wanted other than the fact that I wanted a “big” dog and it had to be a male golden retriever. The last weeks with him have been physically exhausting since I have been alone with him during the weeks, and yet I cannot imagine my life without him. His antics brighten my day and very often he is the only “physical” contact that I have during the day. As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I hardly have any friends in Germany and because I decided to take a career break, Jaden is often the only “person” I have around me. He is definitely not a child-substitute but he is my loyal companion who not only challenges me physically but also brings a lot of laughter, joy and love into my life.The name Jaden is Hebrew for “God has heard” and I sometimes think of him as a guardian angel sent to show me the beauty around me and to remind me that I am not alone. He has also taught me a lot about myself, my limits and my strengths. And he also helped me keep my sanity, my faith and my humour in the past very difficult months. It is a pity that I won’t get any sloppy kisses on my birthday from him this year but I am sure he will make up for it next week.
But above these three things is the one thing that I am most grateful for. It is for God who created me, who is at work making me into the person He wants me to be, chipping and filing away the rough edges. I am so thankful that He leads me, carries me and that He loves me unconditionally. It is He who gives me the three things that I have mentioned above and more. I am so glad for His gift of another year and because I know that He has a good plan for me, I look forward to what He has in store for me in this new birth year. For with God in control, the best is yet to come!