On the Monday and Tuesday after Christmas, I had a case of post-party depression. The month preceding the holiday was full of eager anticipation and hopes of seeing family I'd missed since our last visits in May and the shrinking radius of my world over the summer.
Big Al asked what was wrong, and I said, "All that excitement looking forward to Christmas and God gave me everything I asked for and now all of a sudden blink and it's over and what's next? There's nothing to look forward to on the near horizon and that makes me sad." ( Apparently, emotion makes me talk without punctuation.)
"But what about your birthday? That's just around the corner."
"Well, yes, but that's not really anything to look forward to anymore."
I didn't elaborate, and he prudently decided to put down the can of worms and walk away from the pantry.
What I thought but didn't say was that, in the first two decades of life, birthdays are exciting. Friends, cake, gifts, cake, rites of passage, cake, . . . Every birthday marks one year closer toward desire fulfilled.
At a certain point, for me about the time we returned ignominiously from a year on the mission field, birthdays began to mark one year farther from the desires and dreams of youth, one year closer to . . . what? Being with Jesus fully and forever? Wonderful as that is, somehow I don't see it selling a lot of greeting cards.
When I stopped pouting and quieted myself enough to listen, I heard my Father gently challenging my thinking. "Yes, I gave you everything you asked for the Christmas celebration. What's stopping you from asking again?"
Um, okay, I guess I could do that.
So I asked. In my journal, I listed out my requests for my birthday, the kind of wishes Amazon doesn't sell. Among them was the improbability that I would get to celebrate with both my sisters. Really, I wanted the whole immediate family, including littlest nephews and brother-in-law, together but scaled back what I put on paper. Mustn't be greedy, and I did see them at Christmas. Also, I noted the vague but important wish for "a good surprise." In some seasons of life, a cycle develops in which "surprise" means, "Oh, no!" I was asking for the opposite and expected I would know it if I saw it.
What did God go and do, then? Saturday night at the family party, which was a quiet supper at my parents' house with them, my husband, and the older of my sisters, a knock sounded and in walked my youngest sister with her family. Two prayers in one answer! A surprise and the whole family together!
What's more, He gave two answers to the one prayer for a good surprise. The bonus guests at the party were a surprise to me; that was the first. For the second, one of my dearest friends, who lives in Mexico, had sent my parents a party kit to use in a celebration for me. Through her gifts (planned months ago!) of a banner, party napkins, invitations, gifts, card, and the makings of a cake, her love was a real part of the celebration even though she could not be present in person.
All in all, it was a lovely weekend of being enfolded in the love of family, friends, and my Father, and I am so very aware this morning of the multitude of God's good gifts. There's no accounting for grace.
Gentle reader, if today finds you feeling sad or short on hope, may God's kindness to this slow learner encourage you to go to your Father and tell Him what you want. His throne room has an open-door policy for His children. If your desire is good, He will surely give it in the best way and time; if not, He will still give Himself (even better) and the mercy and grace to help us in our time of need.
From the gratitude list, #3254-3270:
~Freedom to present all my requests, big and little, silly and serious, to God
~One year closer to Jesus
~Balloons and butterflies
~Love it when the fam comes together :-)
~Phone calls from grandmother and second parents
~Three inches of birthday snow!
~Relatively low pain level for a weekend
~Corporate worship and restaurant lunch with my beloved yesterday
~A week of roses on the table
~Deciding to move a string of Christmas lights to the kitchen window, just because fairy lights make life more beautiful
~Quiet, buttercream-frosted Monday morning
~Birthday leftovers for supper tonight
~Ebony swaddling himself in the blankets on the couch to the point he needed help getting unwound
~The wise, gentle physician who has been managing my asthma and has agreed to assume care of my sinus issues, as well, until I can see the university specialist next month
~Feeling affirmed, listened to, and wholly, thoroughly cared for at the end of a medical appointment