Birthdays are different in this technology filled world. I woke up to the ping ping of my cell phone and happy birthday texts. I eventually opened my computer to the beginning of a barrage of Facebook birthday messages. But my husband was the first to wish me happy birthday this morning at 4am when he got up to start his day. I’m a lucky wife too because his first present to me was shaving his face! I love the feeling of a stubble free cheek next to mine.
Today is my 30th birthday. And I woke up next to my husband. As a little girl there was never any doubt that I would get married and have a family. It’s what I wanted and growing up in a world filled with married couples and families, it’s just what happened. Then into my 20s I began to doubt the timing. I still wished for marriage, I still hoped to have a family but maybe that’s not what God had for me. Maybe I would be single at 30 (which would not have been the end of the world but in my mind it was scary). However, last year I celebrated my 29th birthday with friends and a man who had just told me that he loves me. A lot has happened in a year.
Ryan had told me that he wouldn’t say “I love you” until he was ready to marry me. So even though he didn’t propose last August those words set the change in motion. I went from full-time support raising for Australia to figuring out how the transition with the organization and supporters would work. I went from bouncing back and forth from Sacramento to Santa Barbara to making an effort to stay closer to Ryan. We started planning the wedding, planning a future together and planning a life that still seems very foreign to me six months (tomorrow) into marriage.
I truly love Ryan. I love him from deep in my gut and I hope and pray that the love I feel now will continue to grow exponentially. However, I can honestly say that the transition to life in Camarillo, marriage and everything that comes with it, a new phase in waiting for overseas ministry, inviting someone else into my relationship with God as well as leaving my life as a single has been extraordinarily difficult. Nothing anyone could have said to me would have prepared me for this. I knew there were going to be challenges and I knew that everything wouldn’t always be rosy but I had no idea that some days would make me feel like breathing and walking were a chore. How’s that for a marriage advertisement!?
But despite everything I would choose marriage again, I still choose Ryan every day and I don’t doubt that choice. I’m learning how to deal with transition in a completely new way. For the first time since college I am living in the same place for longer than 6 months and there is a strong possibility that we will be here even longer. I have a new church family that I didn’t choose and a community that has been welcoming but is different than any community I have ever been a part of before. I’m grieving the loss of my independence, freedom, ministry, singleness and ‘simple’ relationship with God. And all of this and more is being done while i’m learning to live, love and communicate with another person who has become a part of me.
With each challenge, I am learning things about myself that, for me, would never have been revealed as a single. A lot of this is ugly but there is also something really beautiful about finally ripping through the old, dead, tangled roots and making room for something new to grow. The unknown of our current situation is extremely mentally challenging for me. How long will we be in Camarillo? No idea. Are we going to move to Australia? No idea. When are we going to start having kids? No idea. For the first time in my adult life I am unable to push forward and plan for the distant future. Instead I am having to learn how to live in the present and focus on making now work.
30 is something to celebrate. 3 decades of life and for me those can be roughly divided into 2 decades with my family, 1 decade on my own and now I am adjusting to as many decades as God would give us with my husband. 30 is a turning point to something new. The struggles now are stepping stones to whatever comes next. This is a new decade and a new phase of my life. I’m excited (in a hesitant but expectant sort of way) to see what adventures this decade has in store and I get to learn about it and live it one day at a time.