Even numbers

IMG_3214I have this theory about birthdays: uneven numbers are the worst.

That’s the whole thing in a nutshell. Every year in which I’ve been an uneven age has been just awful, starting at 17 and crowning magnificently at 21. I have spent the last nine months saying, “Less than a year till you’re 22 and it’ll all be okay again.”

You wouldn’t believe me if I told you how hard this year has been. Not the stuff I complain about here on my blog like missing buses, falling down stairs in public, or getting conned out of five euros by a Romani ten minutes after landing in a foreign country. Not even playing ‘King of the Hill’ with that stupid spider in my bathroom and losing every time, thusly having to wash my hair in the sink downstairs (like, how long do I have to wait for this ridiculous arachnid to just die already?). That stuff all makes for great story fodder and to be honest, I don’t mind the misadventures.

I’m talking about the stuff that people don’t post about on facebook because it falls into the “major overshare” category. The stuff I have to wake my dad up for at 11 p.m. because this kind of catastrophe cannot be left till morning. The stuff that makes you cry all the way to work in the morning and all the way home, and then leaves you sitting on your bed staring out your window all night long during memorial day weekend because sleeping just doesn’t make sense anymore (and because it’s memorial day weekend so you don’t have to get up the next morning).

This is not a pity party – this is me saying, yup, I have those years too.

I’ve prayed those prayers saying, “God, just make it end! Please make it stop! Do whatever you have to, just take it away!”

Those are dangerous prayers, because sometimes He says, “Okay.”

And as you watch him strip away all your earthly crutches one by one, you ask, “Wait, I thought you said you’d make it stop? This hurts! What do you think you’re doing, God? Maybe a little heads-up on the next one, please?”

Without personal details (I’m sure you can insert your own), I’ll tell you that God has reshaped my entire life in one year. It’s been like trying to follow the cup Anna Kendrick uses in the ‘Cups’ song – just when you think you know whether it’s right side up or not, she flips it around. But it’s beautiful to watch, the whole song.

The last few months have gotten comfortable (the last week has actually been so wonderful!) and today on the bus home I was thinking, “Just a few more hours and I’m in the clear. I’ll be in the even numbers again!”

I know it sounds stupid, but I promise you that I have really been banking on 22 being a good year. Since February I’ve been telling myself that a year can’t be this bad unless it’s followed by something really great (17 and 18 have been the prototype for this). I have been looking forward to not being 21 anymore even more than I’ve been looking forward to Christmas or seeing my first snowfall or meeting Benedict Cumberbatch (it will happen someday guys, I just know it).

And then (like with the rest of my stories) the golden glow all fell apart in about 30 minutes and when the dust settled I found myself sobbing  on my bed pathetically (because we all know now that I’m a crier!) just like I did in June. Just like I did in February. Just like I did literally almost every week in between.

And for a second I was like, “Are you kidding me??? This is not supposed to happen! I’m an hour and a half away from ‘Passing GO,’ getting my 200 bucks and blowing this Popsicle stand! Why send me this on the eve of my even-numbered birthday??”

But then I found myself kneeling on the floor by my bed (which I haven’t done since I was maybe eight) and praying something different. It was more like, “God, if you want to give me another really, really hard year, I’ll take it. Because I want to grow and become more like Christ, and this year has done that to me. So you can send me the pain, humiliation, discouragement and loneliness and I will rejoice in God my savior. Just promise me that you will complete the work you have started.”

And after a minute or two, I stopped crying. I was not engulfed in my own tragedy the way I might have been six months ago. In fact, amazingly, I felt so empowered that I marched straight into my bathroom, took a swatch of paper and killed that stupid spider. I didn’t even scream.

I don’t know if 22 will be a good year or a bad year. But I am so grateful that it is a year God has given me to serve him and I’m ready to get started.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 15:13

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3 thoughts on “Even numbers

  1. Mary, the Lord has given you wisdom beyond your years. Thank you for being an encouragement as well as a rebuke to me. I pray the Lord will help us both grow more like Him through the difficulties and trials we find ourselves in this year and the years to come. As one of my good friends likes to remind me, “We’re all in this sinful mess together.” No looking down our noses at each other, just pointing one another to Christ. Thank you for doing so in your post. 🙂

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