Today, I turn 30 years old.
I don’t have any big plans. I will be meeting with a counselor. It wasn’t something I’d planned to do on my birthday, but when I emailed him earlier this week, this was the day he said he was free. I chuckled, and then smile-sighed, much like my father does when moments of life seem too ridiculous to do anything other than laugh, smile and shake your head.
It’s probably a good way to start the next decade of life; discussing some of the things in my first three decades, and how they’ve formed my identity, whether for better or worse. I’m not excited about it, but I know it will be good for me and for others.
I was not born only once, though. I am, by God’s grace, “born again.” I don’t usually say so because I typically assume that phrase to belong to short, roundish, gregarious black women who attend Southern churches and wear sun hats, but it was the phrase that Christ used, so perhaps I should take a liking to it.
I don’t know exactly when I was born again, or saved from one eternal life into another. I sometimes feel as though I am re-saved on a continual basis, much like one might be if after having been pulled from the ocean waves, they jumped back in time and time again and were re-saved time and time again by the same patient and determined lifesaver. Such seems to be my relationship with the Christ.
Theologically speaking, I know that’s not the case. I know that salvation occurs once, and that life thereafter is a process of sanctification, or Christ-likening. But I don’t know the day I was saved, and I don’t know that I care all that much so long as I am indeed saved.
Of course, all of us are eternal beings. It’s easy to ignore this or fail to acknowledge it, even if we do call ourselves Christians because we have not seen the other side of death, and we cannot fathom what it means for anything to be eternal, let alone ourselves. We may say we’ll love someone forever, but the reality is that none of has the slightest clue what it means to do anything, let alone love, forever.
So what are birthdays to the eternal? They mean something in this life because things change as we get older. Our bodies. Our perspectives. Our abilities and our rights. Our freedoms and responsibilities. Our expectations, both of ourselves and of the world around us. Time changes these things, hopefully for the better, but not always.
I imagine things will change in Heaven, but I doubt we’ll worry much about time. Why would we? What would life be like if we did not age and we had no need to worry about time?
I realize this may sound morbid, but a part of me is delighted that I am a bit older today because it means I am a bit closer to my death, and thus closer to an eternal community with Christ. I am not entirely without him now, as I am, but I am not nearly with him as I will be when I die to this vehicle and awaken in the next.
I understand why this day is significant in this life and in this world, but I cannot help but to wonder how significant it really is if I will live forever. Will I look back on this day in 200 billion years? Will I remember it?
The other day I was listening to Ed Sheeran’s song, Shape of You. It’s catchy and I like to dance, so I was dancing in my living room and pretending to be much cooler than I am when I paused for a moment to apply some ChapStick. Feeling cool, I capped it and then decided to return it to it’s small wicker basket by tossing it from my right hand, tucked under my left arm, up and over my head, eyes fixed on the basket.
It landed, and in that moment I was Michael Jordan sinking the game winner. No one saw it besides me, and maybe my dog, Homie. And God. Maybe some bored angels.
I hope that moment is recorded. I hope I can replay moments of my life, and the lives of others, in God’s eternal living room. And I hope you will be there, too.