Today is not my birthday.
I really love birthdays, so I just want to be super clear about that.
Today, however, IS the one year anniversary (can we call it that?) of the surprise party that my dearest friends planned and schemed and threw for me to celebrate my 30th. It was the greatest, most beautiful Saturday surprise a girl could’ve asked for. I still have the balloons hanging on my apartment wall.
I thought I was going to help my friend’s mom with a technological task, and then people started yelling at me. It was amazing. And terrifying. If you’re actual friends with me, you can see pictures and video of said terrifying evidence on my social media. If you’re not, well, then, just picture the most uncomfortable-in-their-skin person you know. Now picture them being the center of attention for a significant amount of time.
Needless to say, I took a really good nap after.
But that’s not what this is about. This is about now. Thirty one. Well, at least, entering in to 31 and saying goodbye to 30.
The distance between July 13, 2019 and July 13, 2020 seems immeasurably more than 366 days (thanks, Leap Year). There has been so much undoing and putting back together. So much hoped for and so much lost. So much despair and so much longing. So much mourning, and yet, so much joy.
I thought I knew exactly where my life was heading. I literally had the Pinterest board to press go on and release the planning for the rest of my life.
And then it all just kind of unraveled.
Late last year, I came across this image:
It’s from an artist that practices a form of prayer called vision divina – essentially, we look at an image and allow Holy Spirit to speak to us through what we’re seeing. The caption/prayer that goes along with this one is: May I be gifted with loved ones who remember who I am when I forget; because I will forget.
There was a lot of forgetting who I am over the course of year 30. Not in a dramatic pre-midlife-crisis kind of forgetting. But a slow, opening of my hand, letting go of tightly held beliefs about myself and my convictions. Nothing that anyone on the outside of my life would have really noticed. Just a steady drip of giving up what I had hoped for in lieu of a fine-enough replacement.
For those that care, I am an enneagram 6. I question everything. But I don’t think I’ve questioned myself more than I did in 2019. The fact that my friends are still my friends after all of the merry-go-round conversations I had with them is a testament to their kindness toward me. Because y’all, I know I was not awesome to be around at times.
And yet, they said hello to 30 with me and will say goodbye to it with me as well.
More than the forgetting of who I am, they were there to remind me. To double down and say things like, “You are brave. The Lord has good things for you. You are not alone. You have a crew of people of your side. You are loved. You are seen. You are God’s Beloved.”
They were there to help set me on the path to what continues to be a better version of Kayla than a year ago.
While a surprise party to kick off year 30 was truly the best of times, the best part is what it continues to be: an ebenezer stone to commemorate a room full of people that remember who I am when I forget; because I forget.
May we all be gifted with the Lord’s kindness through His Spirit and His people to be seen, known, and loved in all of our glorious mess. And may we all be willing to lean in and let people remember and remind us of who we are when we forget; because we will forget.