The photographer asked me to stand, but I saw this yellow chair and knew I just had to sit.
Yellow makes me happy, pure and simple.
So I sat, and she snapped the shutter and caught my happy.
There's been a lot of happy since turning forty last April. Not always happy circumstances, but amidst them all there's been this comfortable, I belong here feeling - wrapping me up like I'm my own present. Finally, after 40 years of trying to fit, I suddenly do, right inside the lovely wrapping paper of my own skin.
I must be a late bloomer.
Or maybe we all are late bloomers, and maybe it's supposed to be that way. Trial and error, figuring how to live a contented life this side of the veil. If we came from the womb on the day of our birth with all this hard earned understanding, we wouldn't have needed the gracious nearness of a God who cares for us in our weakness.
I'd been weak forty long years.
Weak, and so desperate to be loved. I worked at it like an artist works her clay, molding and rolling and massaging the lump, till it finds it's way into something beautiful. That was me. Working on being chosen, not knowing I'd already been. But ignorance is a swelling sea, and the wave pushed me forward into adolescence, begging for approval. Though I'd been approved by the King of Heaven Himself, I still looked around on the surface of this earth, hungry for the affirming smiles of this world. Am I kind enough, pretty enough, good enough, smart enough? Until I cried "Enough?" That was the day I turned forty.
In the quiet spaces of early morning, on April 5th this year, with Morning Glory growing high outside my window, I heard Him say, "Wendy Joyce... It is time to put your big-girl panties on!"
I doubted The Lord's voice at first, surprised He'd use the word panties when speaking to the heart of a woman, but then it came again, "Wendy Joyce... It is time to put your big girl panties on!"
And in the hush of my quiet house, I slipped from the warmth of my bed and onto my knees and said, "Yes. I want to grow up."
So I addressed my fears straight on and said, "You have no power over me anymore." And the lonely holes, I pronounced them full. And I thought of my Dad, who's only tried his best to love me well, and said, "I forgive you for not being perfect." And I laughed because he's 70 and I'm 40, and it took me this long. But it felt beautiful, so I kept counting. All the people who seem to do things better, I wished them well in my heart. And all the women suffering in my midst, I availed myself to love them better. And to the causes throughout the world that made me weep, I wept. And for the orphans and for the widows, I lifted up my hands and said, "Send me."
And every time a negative thought crept into my birthday morning praise, I whispered fiercely, "O Great Gardener of my Soul, eradicate that weed!" And I saw his long and loving fingers work the soil of my heart, until no more dirty lies remained, tendrils coiling round the organ of my heart. Until every bit was gone. And God Himself was pulling the heavy-laden trashcan up the property. I watched Him go then stood up from the floor, just as my husband rolled over and opened his eyes.
When a friend of mine saw this picture recently, she commented, "Forty looks good on you!" And I just had to agree. It does. Way down deep.
To all my friends who are turning forty this year... Happy Birthday.
May you find the courage to put your big girl panties on!
Unless you're a man...
If you're forty,
or love someone who is,
share this post & tag your beautiful friends in it.
Let's celebrate - Because the year's not over yet!