For me birthdays have always been occasions to reflect, look back on the past and evaluate where I am. Even though I am someone who lives in the moment, these are the times when I look back and think about where I wanted to be, reflect on the dreams and wishes that I had. So having a milestone birthday this year meant some soul searching and reflection.
If you have read my earlier posts or if you know me, you will know that I had very different hopes or dreams for my life. I have spent most of my life working very hard and been in well paid jobs, but most of what I earned went to pay off for mistakes that others had made and/or to support other people’s wishes or dreams; I live in a country that I do not feel at home in and there doesn’t seem to be a way to move to the country that I would like to; I spend way too much time working and have way too little time for friendships or for doing the things that I would like to do; my health is not what it should be and to make time to take better care of it or even make regular doctors appointments is sometimes just not possible; no matter how much I try to put up emotional boundaries and declutter my life, I still have people around me who don’t heed those boundaries and trample all over them which means that I often still end up being used and/or abused emotionally, physically and monetarily; I managed to fulfil my dream of having a dog and I don’t even have enough time for him…..the list is long and endless. To say that I was very saddened and felt like a failure when I looked at all this would be an understatement. And it did not help that I have been working very long and late hours the past months leaving even lesser time for anything else.
But in the midst of this disheartening analysis of my life, I heard that quiet voice (which for me is God reaching out to me) telling me to look at the pictures on the walls of my house. The walls in my house are lined with pictures of friends that mean a lot to me and places that I have been to that I never even dreamt I would see. As I walked up the stairs looking at them, I realised that the walls are full and I have so many more pictures that I haven’t put up either because I don’t have the time and/or because I don’t have the space! And as I looked at the pictures on the walls I started to smile and joy and hope started to seep through my being!
Yes – my life is very different from what I would have wished for or dreamt of. I have worked very hard and long hours but I have had opportunites that were unique, challenging but fun; I have worked with amazing managers and colleagues who have become dear friends; had teams/managers/colleagues who have appreciated the hard work, believed in me, mentored and encouraged me. It has been managers and colleagues who have stood by me in some of the most difficult and challenging periods of my life where I have faced many a personal crisis.
I may not have had the financial means to travel to all the places that I wanted to since I was busy paying off the aforementioned debts, but I have been to places I never dreamt I would ever go to. I have worked and lived in three different countries, I have traveled and worked with teams in over 50 countries and I have been given professional opportunites that I never thought I would get, although being a success professionally or having a wonderful career was never what I ever wanted or aimed for. What I want or strive for is to do the job that I have been entrusted with to the very best of my ability and capacity.
I have learnt and grown beyond measure through the people I have been blessed to meet, the places and cultures I was fortunate to get to know.
Yes I have been hurt deeply to the point of becoming ill physically by those who were very close to me and whom I trusted. And yet for every hurt and pain that I experienced, there were friends who poured their love into many of these wounds and helped them heal. When family looked away and didn’t say anything about the emotional blows I was getting so as not to spoil their relationships with these people, friends and even colleagues took a clear and protective stand for me. For every time someone who had been close to me used me – financially or otherwise- there were so many occasions where friends, acquaintances and sometimes even strangers gave generously of their time, gifts, affection, opened their hearts and homes to me. I have found warmth, affection, protection and friendship in the most unexpected places and homes.
I am thankful for the friends in many parts of the world who bring joy and warmth to my life. They are my haven when the storms of life threaten to tear me apart. I may live in a country where I face discrimination way too often, but I have wonderful friends even there who I can not only count on but who love, accept and defend the person that I am.
For the times that I have known what it is to be hungry and not have enough, I not only have more than enough today but I also have an abundance to help and share with others not as fortunate as me. I may never be able to buy a house of my own but I am able to visit the country that I call home more than once or twice a year today! And I can fulfil many dreams and wishes-not just mine but those of others too.
I may not have a house filled with children and dogs like I had hoped to have but I have a huge puppy who brings infinite joy to my life and is my little sunshine. And I am a “spiritual” mother/aunt to so many lovely young people who enrich my life tremendously.
I am thankful that the rough and difficult roads I have walked on have also brought so much love, warmth, sunshine and a wealth of experience to my life. They have brought me much further than I could ever have imagined, opened my eyes to things I would have been blind to otherwise, forced me to go out of my comfort zone and widened my horizons tremendously. They have been difficult, rough and very lonely at times but I am glad that God walked them with me and carried me when I could go no further. And when I needed a friend, He sent me not one but many who carried and helped me unconditionally. He also sent friends who helped heal the spiritual wounds that I had suffered for a very, very long time so that I could discover and become the woman He wanted/wants me to be (and this is definitely a work still in progress!)
When I look at the beautiful and colourful tapestry of the past 50 years of my life I know that the bright colours would not stand out if there weren’t darker and duller ones in between. I am grateful that the light indeed drives out darkness.
As I look forward to spending this day with a wonderful and generous couple that I only know via social media and who have opened their hearts and home to a total “stranger”so that I can fulfil a wish and spend the day with them and their beautiful team of senior dogs, I know that I am truly blessed. And I am glad that Bernd is with me today.
The very fact that I have lived to experience this day is nothing short of a wonder and a gift that is very precious.
So on this milestone birthday, I am so thankful for the love and warmth of friendships that I am blessed with, for the rollercoaster ride of 50 years and for the incredible experiences that I have had. Above all I know that God will always take care of me because I am His precious daughter and He will never fail me. With this assurance, the love and support of the precious family of friends that He has given me, I am excited about the paths that I will travel in the next years:
“You are forever in my life, you see me through the seasons;
cover me with your hand and lead me in your righteousness.
And I look to You, and I wait on you;
I’ll sing to You, Lord, a hymn of love for Your Faithfulness to me
And I’m carried in everlasting arms, you’ll never let me go
Through it all”