I turned 31 yesterday, which is kind of like the feeling you have on December 26th; the year after your 30th birthday is somewhat anti-climactic. Leaving my twenties felt big, like a milestone of measurements in so many ways because thirty was basically my made-up deadline to get my stuff together. With three decades of life behind me, I thought that certainly I would feel wiser, kinder, less rough around the edges. But now the only thing I am certain of is that it doesn’t work that way. Self-imposed deadlines have always been my downfall, but this year I have figured out something worth noting: our souls don’t have a schedule, and God will have his way with us on His time, not ours. That lesson alone has made my 31st birthday my favorite so far.
Without a doubt, this has been the most profoundly different year of my life, as a wife, mom, writer, friend, and follower of Jesus. Becoming a mom of three kids under three years old in the fall, each one needing very different things from me, brought a very real shift in what made up my days; there is truly very little else going on between 6:00am-7:00pm other than, well, them. I don’t exercise like I used to, I have less time to write than I want, reading makes me feel like I’m cheating on my other responsibilities; so many things that are life-giving just don’t fit in to the minutes I have.
But maybe it’s designed that way; maybe motherhood during the little years is just not set-up to be the most productive years of our life. I think these years are just teaching us the kind of dependence on Jesus we will need when we aren’t exhausted from all the clinging but exasperated from all the worry. Every few months I stop and realize that this is actually going by faster than I can believe, and I am content to ask God, “what do you have for me today,” rather than lamenting all that I didn’t get done.
I also think this is the year I may have settled in to this title of writer in a way that I finally feel comfortable with. Six years ago this month, my best friend and I sat at her big kitchen table and started dreaming about a blog together. We poured our hearts out for four years in that space, trying things that didn’t work and being surprised by the things that did. Almost two years ago I started writing for Coffee + Crumbs, and shortly after that this space was born to capture my ever-present need to process life and faith in words. But in the last year, I’ve (almost) stopped feeling insecure about calling myself a writer, because I am; this is just what I do, this thinking of the world in 800-1000 word essays. I’ve stopped trying to copy someone else, stopped trying to manufacture success in any form other than honesty, and I’ve started to find what I really want to say: God is good, and He is perfect. I’ve always wanted that to be the message, but I’m not sure I even knew what that meant, and at times it got lost in my need for others to say, “Katie, you are good.” I know now that I’m not, and I’m chasing after nothing except knowing Him more.
But what I will remember the most from my year as a thirty-year-old is this: God got big and I got small. He’s so good, and I think I finally believe that He is after his glory in all things: the way I love my husband, the way I parent my babies, the words I send into the world, and the way I care for my people. I have spent the last decade believing that I needed to do or be something bigger in order to make a difference for the Kingdom, and that a success for someone else meant a loss for me. Not anymore. God’s kingdom will come no matter what, and my part in that has nothing to do with who sees or what they think. And with that, celebrating the victories of my friends has become one of the joys of my life; what is better than seeing someone live into the work God has only for them?
And after years of tension that I’m not doing enough, something beautiful happened to me: I understand that I actually can’t do enough, yet I am free to do as much as my heart will allow me to do purely. There is rest in that place, a rest I haven’t ever known before. Because of who He is, I have a peace and a fire, and both feel right.
Now on a completely separate note, there are other notable things about being thirty-one. For example, the gray hairs are here to stay. I’m officially on a twelve-week rotation to cover them up; and because I can’t afford to go down to eight, weeks 7-12 are straight up painful. I also cannot lose my last few pounds of baby weight and the button on my jeans is too uncomfortable to sit down in, so I finally went high-waisted; but don’t worry, I’m very aware of “mom-butt” and plan on wearing long tank tops under everything until I die or stop eating chocolate chip cookies. I am up and at it by 5:30am but am basically useless by 9:00pm, so I’d fit right in with all my senior citizen friends. But other than hair and weight and sleep, I’m totally feeling young, wild, and free! (Ha.) (I have to laugh, or I’ll just cry.)
But really, I love getting older. Every single day is a gift, and that truth only becomes more and more real to me. Here's to 31, the most significant insignificant birthday of my life.