I remember the conversation I had with my dad when I told him how I wanted to celebrate my 25th birthday. He sat me down and asked me why I wanted to spend money doing something “lavish” (not his exact words) on a day that I should spend in introspection and communing with my God. Funny how back then, although my mind was made up, I recognized he had a point (of course there are easy push-backs, but a valid point nonetheless). Regardless, I was going to have my “party” and that was all there was to that.

Over the years, I’ve become a lot more like my father in this (and several other) regard(s). Birthdays, like the end of the year present me with an opportunity for reflection and self-assessment. On most days, I’m a pretty confident and “self”-assured person. I know who I am, I know whom I serve. And most importantly, I understand that in the grand scheme of things my life is great by God’s grace and I should be grateful for that. But there are days, few and far between but there regardless, where in moments of weakness I lose sight of these truths. In the past year, especially in the last couple of months, I’ve had a lot more of those days than I am accustomed to. In those dark moments I took my eyes off my path and I looked at other people’s lives and measured myself against them: I looked at where I am now and where 18 year old me thought I would be; I looked at my friends moving ahead with their lives in relationships, spiritually, financially, professionally and how I seemed to be standing still; I looked at the marks I set for myself to hit and how much of them I haven’t hit. Fam! I’m not even going to lie, I’m not totally out of the woods yet, as this birthday drew closer those dark thoughts kept creeping up with greater frequency. But I will say this, I’m not wallowing in my frustrations or my disappointments. I know who I am, I know whom I serve. I know that He is in charge of my life, and that if I don’t get “lost in the sauce” but let Him take the wheel, my life is sorted.

Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t say that there have also been a LOT of moments in the past year that I have been immensely grateful for. The engagements, the weddings, the journeys, the new friendships, the pictures, the dance congresses and festivals, the performances, the injuries, the hikes, the stories; so very many things that I look back on now and can’t help but smile and admit that I truly am blessed.

My life is far from perfect. The past year has made a lot of my shortcomings very evident: I’m not as smart as I would like; I’m not as wholesome a man as I would want; I’m not as financially disciplined as I should be; I’m not as good a friend as I would like to believe; I’m nowhere near as good a Christian as I claim I am; and I’m certainly not as great a dancer as I sometimes imagine myself to be. But with even greater clarity, what I have seen in the past year is that in spite of all these faults, I am loved; loved by God, loved by family, loved by friends. And to be very honest, while I work on the shortcomings that I can work on and strive to be the best version of me that I can be, that love is all I need.

So happy birthday to me! Cheers to loving myself, letting myself be loved, and embracing my shortcomings.