For me, March 18 has always been important to me because it is unique opportunity to thank God for another day (and year) of life, reflect on personal growth, and recklessly celebrate with my friends. Given how I have chosen to celebrate my birthday in previous years (s/o to everyone who was there for my 21st), it is no surprise that many people asked me what my birthday plans were for year 26. The response was the same: “I don’t know. I don’t really have any.”
No cross-country flights. No blue juice. No passport stamps.
On my birthday last year, I visited California for the first time. While on the West Coast, I claimed this past year would be one of discovering the impossible and that is exactly what happened. Over the last 365, I have
- Training and completed TWO half-marathons
- Earned my second degree alongside my little brother
- Visited several historic venues, including but not limited to, Fenway Park, Rose Bowl, and National Museum of African American History and Culture
Despite these personal accomplishments, I am most proud of the lessons I have learned, relationships I have nurtured, and wisdom I have gained over the last year. I have included a few examples below:
- Control what Tim can control. It is amazing how much more fulfilled I became when I decided to root my perspective in gratitude. Every single day is blessing and it is irrational to believe I could regulate what happens around me. However, I learned how to govern my thoughts and limit my circle, so that I may always experience God’s grace in my life.
- Learn how to serve. “Men for and with others.” This was my high school’s motto and one that is congruent to all Jesuit-affiliated institutions around the world. As an adolescent, I learned the difference between service learning and community service and participated in an international mission trip. As an adult, I am learning how to serve others rather than helping and/or fixing them. This has become especially evident in my professional work, which you all read about soon.
- Less is more. The more I move, the smaller my circle gets. In 2017, I moved twice and held residence in 3 different cities. I am a firm believer in quality over quantity, but I am learning that removal comes before replacement. I have lost and removed several relationships over the last year for many reasons. Now in Maryland, I am thankful for the tenured relationships that have been covered with grace and new relationships that have been founded with love and fueled with purpose.
“San Francisco and Oakland reminded me how critical it is to look beyond myself and trust in God’s plan for my life. His purpose supersedes my personal preference on where I want to live post-graduate school…God has given me a clear vision to help others identify their why on this Earth.”
The above excerpt is from the “Protect Your Peace” blog I wrote in Oakland (CA) on March 14, 2018, right before my 25th birthday.
Yesterday, I turned 26.
Despite being legally kicked off Leslie’s insurance, I have never been more connected to peace in my life. I am working my dream job, in what is becoming my dream city, selfishly focused on Tim. I have aligned my priorities so that I permanently experience joy.
I may not have had a clue how I was going to celebrate my birthday, but I know the direction that God has for my life. And that alone, is the greatest birthday present I could ever ask for.
Encourage somebody to be great today!