Birthdays are fun. You get to celebrate with the ones you love. They get to shower you with lots of gifts, love, and food. It's a good thing. What I enjoy most about my birthday is that it makes me reflect – to look back on my days and years on earth and try to make some sense of it. I woke up this morning thinking, "Wow, I'm turning forty!". So I started to reflect - think back on how I have lived my life so far. The decisions I made, the ones I am still making and how they will impact the rest of my life.
The thing with reflecting is that it sometimes fills you with emotions you didn't anticipate. This is why you want to make sure while reflecting, you are looking through the right lenses. You can't look back and compare your life with another person. Now, I know how hard it can get with all the seemingly picture-perfect posts you see of other people’s lives on social media. It's hard not to compare and ask the why questions. We both know that doesn't help one bit, so if you get something positive out of this, you have to look back on your own life and yours alone.
Let's talk about one of the first emotions you may have to deal with as you reflect, and that's regret. The 'if-onlys' and 'why-didn't-I' are sure to tumble right in when you open the door to the past. But that's not the point of this. My husband always says, "you make the best decisions with the information you have." So if you made a bad decision, you don't have to look back on your life with regret. It would help if you looked back with wise eyes to learn from your past mistakes and ensure you can take those lessons with you into the future. Mistakes really are a good teacher, as long as you don't let them break you. Take notes from your mistakes, learn from them and move on.
Another common emotion you may have to deal with as you reflect is fear or loss. The paralyzing thought of terror from incidents that happened beyond your control is a biggie. Life often throws some really devastating punches that look like it's a total knockout. Know that you are not alone and reach out to someone for help. It's not a sign of weakness but a strength to own up to your fears and get help. You can reach out to your family, counselor, or support group; that's fine, as long as you reach out for help. The moment has past, you need to overcome the scar. Brave up and take control of your fears. It hurts, and there are no words to describe your loss, but you can't let fear rule the next phase of your life. Get help to move on.
Now there is also the feeling of happiness that can elevate you as you look back. The incredible satisfaction that comes from getting it right, doing your own thing, dancing to the tune of your life, and winning. You look back, and you are happy, ecstatic at your achievements. That's great, and you should relish those memories. You did it, and you should be proud. I love those feelings, and I live for them too. Still, you have a whole lot more to do in the future, so don't live on past glories. Press on to even greater successes in the future. Give yourself a pat on the back and a kick in the butt to move ahead and do even better.
The truth is you never really move ahead in life if you are still hung up on the past – regret, fear, or even happiness. Life is definitely not a sprint but a marathon. You don't stop running until you get to the very end of the race. If you stumble, steady yourself and keep going. If you fall, get up and run again. The joy of the race is running, and as long as you are still running, you are still in the race.
As I turn 40, I look back with joy and pride in the life God has allowed me to live. I have had moments of joy, sadness, loss, doubt, regret but most of all, faith. I'm proud of some of my choices, embarrassed at some others, and still waiting on the verdict of how some others will turn out. But in all, I'm hopeful, excited, and ready to take on the years ahead.
Even if it's not your birthday soon, I'll like to invite you to take stock of your life until this point and write out what the end game will be. Then make sure every moment of your life from here on consists of little steps that add up to the end game you want for you. No cheating, no looking into another person's garden to see how green it is, no giving up before the whistle is blown. If you are still breathing, you are still running, so don't give up just yet.
Gear up as we enter the next phase of our lives together. I'm excited; it's going to be grand!
Scriptures to brighten your day.
"Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright; For the future of that man is peace." Psalm 37:37
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. " Jeremiah 11:29