May 6, 2016 by Heather
Over the weekend I went to the big city and walked around the mall for a little bit. Malls are just the worst sometimes, right? So many kids. Too many options. Not enough bathrooms. It just makes me nervous. Anyway. Hannah so generously gave me a Happy Early Birthday present, which is the best kind of present there is, so I went to Sephora to get a couple of items that help me look a little more like a real human. I took a selfie very secretly in Target, making sure no one was watching, to show Hannah the lipstick I got and how my shirt matched the bag. I didn’t really even look at the photo after I took it, I just sent it quickly and tried to get out of the mall as fast as possible.
Later that night I was scrolling through some pictures of the boys I had taken and came across the picture I sent Hannah. Apparently I had taken two: one with an open smile and one with a closed smile that I sometimes do without thinking and that Hannah and Andrew make fun of so, so much because they are mean. I had not even seen the closed smile picture until then, and it kind of caught me off guard:
What is all the crap around my eyes? I’ve been using eye cream since I was 16, surely those can’t be… no, they couldn’t be… wait a minute. Yep. Yep they are.
Wrinkles. Laugh lines.
As I zoomed in and out of the picture, unsure of what I was seeing and wondering if an Instagram filter might help, I felt this weird sense of joy come over me. I expected to feel, I don’t know, aging? But I didn’t. I felt really, really happy. Do you know where laugh lines come from? Laughing. Smiling so much your face hurts. Squinting judgmentally at people. All of my most favorite things to do.
I turn 30 tomorrow, and I’ve been thinking a lot lately about time… How it never changes but somehow changes us and everything in its wake. It marches on, it heals, it reveals, it flies. There’s never enough of it but sometimes it just drags on and on. We can Spring Forward and Fall Back, but truthfully, we can’t control or manipulate it. The seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades. It all adds up, and before you even realize it’s happening, you have this big, full, beautifully crazy grown-up life that feels like it’s moving and changing at warp speed. And all of a sudden it doesn’t feel like time is on your side anymore, if it ever was to begin with.
But what can you do? Carpe diem? YOLO? To some degree, well, yes. Because why not? I’ve been a big, fat, hairy ball of anxiety and tension lately, and I’m super duperty duper freaking sick of it. Everyone I know is busy and stressed and burned out. It gets old, doesn’t it? I know a lot of what we do is inevitable and necessary and even good — very, very good — but the weight of it feels like too much sometimes. It’s hard to YOLO when you want to crawl out of your skin and curl up in the fetal position with a soft blanket and not move for a few weeks.
So, for my fourth decade of life, I’ve decided to let it go like the movie Frozen. I will still do all the things, within reason and as God sees fit, but I refuse to let the weight of it ensnare my joy and squelch my fragile spark. So much happened in my twenties — college, friends, marriage, moving, babies — huge, amazing things. But I was so anxiety ridden, and for what?
For my birthday, and for the rest of my birthdays, I want more laugh lines. There will still be bad days and bad moods and just bad things in general, but I pray for the grace to accept them with a deep breath and a smile, and a decidedly less anxious spirit.
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit away from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” Psalm 51:10-12
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, I MEAN FRIDAY!