You may call this a mid-life crisis. You may think it’s weird. Or maybe a combination of both… and you may be right.
This month, I turn 45. Yes, 45.
The good news is that my grandmother lived to be 92, so if that is any indicator, I’m still not even at the halfway point yet. 🙂
I realize at this point in my life, I’m set in a lot of my ways and I’ve pretty much figured out who I am. I know that can be a good thing…and a bad thing.
Earlier this year, my sister-in-law, Lisa*, had one request on her birthday: “Tell me something positive about me and something that I can work on”. So a few of us got together to celebrate her special day and we went around the table and honored her request.
Telling her what we loved about her was easy. Sharing an “area of growth” with her was hard. But I saw her take the comments, good and bad, accept them and process them. I believe I’ve seen a change in her too.
That night, I knew I wanted to do the same thing.
I told some friends about this soon after that and they kinda thought I was crazy. One friend even said it sounded like a rough way to spend my birthday. And I agree.
Do I really want to hear the not so good things about me? Things I may already be aware of that I may even be insecure about? And do I really want to learn about my other issues that I don’t see but others do?
If I’m being honest, the words may sting initially, but I believe there is growth on the other side of it.
So, who did I choose for this love-fest? People who have a front-row seat to my life: close family, close friends which also includes people I serve with. I chose people from varying parts of my life because they see different sides of me.
The Bible even instructs us to do this for each other. In 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul tells us to “warn…admonish…encourage…help” one another. The Message translation ends that portion of scripture with this – “Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.”
Sometimes bringing it out doesn’t feel good. The nurse side of me thinks about a patient with some sort of abnormal growth in their body. Removing the growth may require surgery and surgery is painful. But the alternative is worse. Letting that thing-that’s-not-suppose-to-be-there continue to grow on the inside will result in more harm in the long-run.
Here’s what I told the people on my list: “God willing, I still have a lot of years left and I want to make them the best I possibly can. I believe this is one way to help me accomplish that and be the best version of me that I can possibly be.” I’ve promised them that I would take what they say, pray over it and strive for growth.
It has been 3 months since we celebrated Lisa’s birthday. She recently told me that she was glad she made that request. Prior to us talking with her, she prepared herself. She told herself that these people loved her and wanted nothing but the best for her. She also did her own introspection. Once it was all said & done, she believes the things we said have helped to keep herself in check and also accountable to us. She saw it as “fine-tuning”.
I just sent out the email and told them I would be reading it on my birthday. So if you are looking for me on September 12th, I’ll be the girl wearing a birthday hat with a box of Kleenex and eating from a tub of ice cream.
And I’ll be the girl being refined. Happy birthday to me.
*name used with permission, speed limit picture from Getty images