??Happy?? Birthday

I am not a fan of birthdays. 

I am at the age where I forget how old I am and have to do math.  Okay…born in 1972…2016 minus 1972….   Anyone else?  I know there are more of you out there.

However, It’s not my own birthday that is hard.

The birthdays with a history of stirring less than celebratory feelings are those of my special needs daughter.  The cake and balloons may as well be a count down timer ticking entirely too loud.

Last week I was having a conversation with a woman who was beautifully vulnerable in sharing  the surprising sadness she experienced on her special needs son’s 5th birthday. 

Yes. I remember that feeling, too.

For me 6 candles was the gut punch.  The M&M’s were eaten, the photos shared, curling ribbon swept up, and everyone asleep.  Meanwhile, I was silently crying trying not to wake up my husband lying beside me.

In the preschool and early elementary years the ticking of each passing birthday echoed truths how the gap between Miranda and her peers was widening. The ticking echoed the importance of early intervention and how the window was narrowing.  The ticking echoed the reality that despite 30 hours per week of intensive 1:1 therapy, this autism and hypotonia thing was not going to go away.

Tick

Tick

Tick

Eventually…birthdays became fun again. 

I settled into reality and routines. Realistic expectations begot days of happiness. I began to feel more like a mom and less like an administrative assistant. 

For a while, we were operating in a bit of a sweet spot.

But now I can hear the clock ticking again. 

Miranda has moved from pull ups to adult size diapers. The adult box is checked when purchasing tickets. She now wears an adult medium shirt. 

Isn’t it funny how we often find ourselves looped back to a familiar place? There are strongholds, reminders, and issues I thought I had worked through. Yet, there they are again. Right smack in the middle of the road I’m trying to move forward on. They are there forcing me to stop and address the barriers between where I stand and the riches ahead. 

Earlier this month I was with my spiritual director. She was giving me encouragement to approach an item on the road I thought had been cleared up. I was (am) afraid to touch it. I was (am) surprised God was inviting me back to a place that was (is) so painful. However, if I honestly believe God loves me and knows what is best then accepting His invitation to pick up a barrier in the road lying between us is only going to grow our relationship deeper.

If You lead me Lord I will follow

Where You lead me Lord I will go

Come and heal me Lord I will follow

Where You lead me Lord I will go

I will go

I will go

After all this time am I back to the same place?

In this same session my spiritual director,  referenced the apostle Peter and the time his journey looped back to a familiar spot. The night Jesus was arrested, Peter claimed he would never, ever deny Christ. 

Never! Ever! 

Peter was the guy who always had Jesus’s back. His loyalty was solid. So much so Jesus gave him a nickname meaning “rock.” He was even the first of the twelve to say that he believed Jesus was, in fact, the Messiah. 

Yet, we know how the crucifixion story goes. Jesus is arrested and taken away. Peter follows from behind at a safe distance. 

Huddled around a fire with strangers just outside the building Jesus is imprisoned, a teenage girl asks Peter if he knows Jesus. A teenage girl. Not a big burly dude ready to stone someone, but a teenage girl.

Cock-a-doodle-do

Keep turning the pages

of the bible and read later Peter is back at the same spot because he is now the one arrested to be put on trial. 

Why?  Because he refuses to deny Christ! 

What changed Peter from a man worried what a teenage girl thinks to a man who would eventually also be crucified for his loyalty?

Jesus.  Jesus changed Peter.

Jesus changes us, too. 

As we walk with him and he circles us back to places we would rather forget, our approach is different.  We have a bit of history of seeing how God is a good Father who knows how to draw us close to Him. We have a history of feeling the transformation His closeness brings.

No, we are not the same.

Driving my daughter to therapy today with the playlist on shuffle, a song came on.  A song one could say is what the fire pit in the courtyard was to Peter. A thing marking a moment in time.  

Around the time of Miranda’s 6th birthday,  I was at church and the band played Invitation Fountain.  It was the first time I truly used music to pray. The song was God’s way of gently inviting me. The song was my way of responding, broken.

If You lead me Lord I will follow

Where You lead me Lord I will go

Come and heal me Lord I will follow

Where You lead me Lord I will go

I will go

I will go

Today, listening to the song I remembered the birthdays that were so hard. I was made aware we may be coming to that place again. I was made aware now when I say “I will go” it is not in defeat and as a last resort. Rather it is with hope and confidence God will, indeed, lead me to a place of abundance in Him with each passing birthday.

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