Sixteen Plus Candles
Today is my birthday, dear readers. I’m not going to tell you how old I am, but I am going to tell you that this isn’t the life that I expected to have at this age. Or any age, for that matter.
I’m a planner – Type A all around, super organized and always early. So naturally, I had my entire life mapped out by the time I was sixteen. I was going to get a Ph.D. in psychology, open my own practice as a therapist, and work out of a beautiful office in the home that I shared with my husband and two kids. We would have an adorable dog, and my handsome husband and I would raise our children together and grow old together after they were gone. One family, one house, one satisfying existence comprised of helping people, traveling the world with my life partner and our kids, and cooking dinner and eating it with my children every night. I’d write books in my spare time, and they would end up on the New York Times bestseller list. Doesn’t that sound lovely?
It might have been, but I wouldn’t know, because I’ve never lived that life. The only part of that fantasy that materialized is that I have two kids. I do cook for them, but not every night, as they live with their father fifty percent of the time. I would love to get a dog, but with two jobs and two teenagers, I’m not home often, and I have a tiny yard, so it feels like animal cruelty to bring a puppy into this situation.
What I’ve learned over the course of my life is that I know very little. I don’t know if I’ll ever get married again, or where I’ll be living two years from now. I don’t know what job I’ll have, or whether I’ll ever get a dog, or even what my next vacation destination is. What I do know is this: there is a God, He has a plan, and it isn’t my job to know what that plan is; my job is to trust that He does. I get up each morning, do my best with what I’ve got, and hope that it leads me to somewhere better. Every day, I try to brighten someone else’s day; I look for opportunities to comfort, encourage, or inspire. I try to appreciate every blessing that I have, and I get down on my knees and ask God for more blessings, because I have dreams that still haven’t come true, and I hope that someday they might. But that’s up to Him. I can plan, I can hope, and I can strive, but the outcome is not – and never was – up to me. After decades of trying to manipulate my circumstances, I have finally internalized this truth. I wish that God would give me a blueprint for my life – details about what will happen and when. But He doesn’t work like that. The good news is that His plan is better than mine. I don’t know what it is but I do know that He will wow me with precious moments and gifts along the way, and I look forward to seeing it unfold.
Today I will celebrate the blessings in my life. My magnificent children, who are a dream come true, and whose company I cherish. Two jobs that I love, and I am grateful to have. Wonderful family and friends, a community that I enjoy living in, a church that I like attending, and a charming book with my name on the cover that I hope will put a smile on lots of children’s faces. I am grateful for my health, and my life, because although it is not the life that I expected, it is an adventure full of surprises, and maybe that’s better than the life that I had planned.