Every birthday I take time to reflect on the past year by thinking about lessons learned and insights gained. I turned 33 last Friday and just looking back 10 years in the past, I am such a different woman today than I was at 23. I am more confident, more sure of my intrinsic worth and more aware my values. I hope to think that I am much wiser. The woman I am today came as a result of growing pains, self-reflection, and intentionally deciding to engage in personal development. Growing and maturing didn't happen overnight and took a lot of work. While I know intellectually that learning and growing is a lifelong process, experience and maturity taught me that the process sometimes comes with a lot of pruning for my own good.
One of my favorite Bible verses comes from Romans 8:28, "And you know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." I have read that verse a number of times, but it's only lately that I've fully grasped its meaning. ALL things work TOGETHER, for good. What does that mean exactly? For me, that means that the wins, the challenges, the triumphs and the failures all work together to mold me and to manifest in my life for good.
It reminds me of a quote I read by Cheryl Strayed last year from her book, Tiny Beautiful Things (it is by far my favorite read of 2016). Cheryl writes,
“To use our individual good or bad luck as a litmus test to determine whether or not God exists constructs an illogical dichotomy that reduces our capacity for true compassion. It implies a pious quid pro quo that defies history, reality, ethics, and reason. It fails to acknowledge that the other half of rising--the very half that makes rising necessary--is having first been nailed to the cross.”
If the other half of rising is having been nailed to the cross then at times the other half of learning and growing is falling. Of course, for the actual growth to take place, we must get back up. As the church mothers would say, "it's either a lesson or a blessing." Either way, it all works to our good.
I bought my "birthday dress" at Zalta Boutique in Brooklyn. It's where I found my birthday dress last year, and I knew to go back this year, plus I love that I'm supporting a local small business.