9,862 Days

“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” – Psalm 90:12

I was born on a Wednesday afternoon at 1:26 on this date 27 years ago. My entrance into this world came after 36 hours of labor for my mother, most of which was extremely painful for my Mom since I was in posterior position and the back of my big head was pressing against my Mom’s tailbone (I have been trying to spend the sum of my days trying to make things right with her for all that drama I caused coming in…lol). Once I was born, I developed bleeding in my lungs and my life was in danger. The doctors could not say what caused the bleeding and they honestly could not say how to stop it. My parents had to painfully watch other parents gleefully taking their newborns home while I was confined to the pediatric ICU. They did what they knew to do – they prayed. Seven days later, the bleeding miraculously stopped. I’ve been reminded of this story many times when I have doubted whether I should even be here. From that day to this, there have been so many different occurrences and situations, many laughs and tears, people have come and they’ve gone…but I’m still here.

After the trials and difficulty of the past year, I felt strongly that I wanted to celebrate my birthday this year. Twenty-seven is not typically one of those years that you go out of your way to celebrate but doing things in typical fashion is not really my strong suit. The last time I had an actual celebration for my birthday was when I turned eighteen. My last few birthdays have been spent with my attention on someone else’s day. But after all the eye opening lessons and after I’ve battled to know who I am and come to love who I am this year, I wanted to celebrate surviving, celebrate not laying down to life, to circumstances, and to people who tried to break me down this year.

I went back and forth in my mind about whether I should celebrate and how I should celebrate. But eventually I decided that it was worth it – that I am worth it. It’s funny because I received a piece of correspondence last week, which among other things admonished me to not lose myself while trying to find other parts of myself. The funny part is the person who sent it. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – sometimes the people who encourage you the most toward personal freedom are those who need personal freedom the most. The advice was good but the messenger was iffy. The words were legit but the actions behind the words were contrary. This was yet another reminder as to why I needed to celebrate. It was important for me to celebrate 27, not necessarily for what I am going into but for what I’m coming from.

Ashley's VV 1

As I sat at the table with about 20 family members and friends on Saturday night, I was overwhelmed with such good emotions that I was reduced to tears. Twenty six gave me some of the greatest feelings of being unloved and misunderstood that I’ve experienced in all my days; yet, I sat there among people who love me for me and appreciate what I have been able to bring to their lives. We laughed, we cracked jokes, three of my friends sang me happy off the Happy Birthday song, my two colleagues baked me a purple cake (my favorite color) with edible pearls on top (it was such a hit!). Love was all in the details, love was all in the gift of people’s presence and the gift of people still seeing my worth and speaking life to me. And then more joined us as we danced the night away. When I came home, my hair looked like I had just gone swimming because I danced to my heart’s content. I could not have thought of a better way to begin a new year in my life.

People like me find it very easy to get lost in taking care of others, being concerned about others, and making sure others are happy. There’s nothing wrong with this when done in perspective and with balance. So I’m learning that it’s OK to make sure I’m alright too and to want people around to celebrate with me too. I’m learning that it’s OK to have people support me like I endeavor to support them. Most importantly, I’m learning that it’s OK to love myself whether others love me or not and no matter how others “love” me.  God used 26 to teach me to number my days so that I can apply my heart to wisdom.  He’s taught me not to take one thing for granted and that has wised me up in so many ways.  Not one lesson, one tear, one frustration has or will be wasted.  That has made all the difference.

Happy Birthday to me! Hey 27! Let’s dance!

Ashleys VV 2

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