When You Walk into the Dark {A Birthday Post – that really is Happy}

I was born the month after my mom turned 30 and 10 years later, much to her horror, I announced to everyone we knew that she was about to turn 40.

Ages have fascinated me for as long as I can remember. Not the concrete number, per se, but the age in relation to where a person is in their life.

He turned 39 this past Tuesday. The sun rose warm on the late October day and I crept quietly out of the house to bring him home a coffee – because a decade is almost over and the ending of something always needs to be held gently, celebrated quietly, thought on long.

And that’s what I did as I stood line, dressed all in black and my hair hidden under the green of my cap. I thought of him and how that very first year – before he held my hand and before he lifted the veil…before he whispered he loved me back…he turned 26.

I boxed up a small, blue tupperware container full of chocolate chip cookies and even though I didn’t know if I would ever know – I wondered what he would look like at 40.

And now we stand on the cusp of it.

And he is breathtakingly handsome.

I stand here now, thinking back on the man that he was already and realizing with shocking reality that 11 years will fly and he will be 50.

Lyla will be 18.

I’ll be 45.

We’ll be past the stage of babies and diapers and toys strewn everywhere…

It makes me catch my breath a little bit.

Not because I’m sad, though, I am feeling a tad nostalgic – but because the weight of time is heavy on the waiting end and a mere whisper of the moments already lived.

He is 39 and the pure black of his hair is becoming more peppered with grey – his beard touched with the soft shades of white. I know that the lines that are forming on his face give grief and laughter equal weight because I have held him through both.

I came across random words this evening, ones that brought Tony to mind because in the 13 years I have known him, in the four years that have been marked with deep sorrow, in the 1 year of finding ourselves in ministry again;  in the midst of it all, I have watched him enter into whatever God has allowed:

“The quickest way for anyone to reach the sun and the light of day is not to run west, chasing after the setting sun, but to head east, plunging into the darkness until one comes to the sunrise. I discovered in that moment that I had the power to choose the direction my life would head, even if the only choice open to me, at least initially, was either to run from the loss or to face it as best I could. Since I knew that darkness was inevitable and unavoidable, I decided from that point on to walk into the darkness rather than try to outrun it, to let my experience of loss take me on a journey wherever it would lead, and to allow myself to be transformed by my suffering rather than to think I could somehow avoid it. I chose to turn toward the pain, however falteringly, and to yield to the loss, though I had no idea at the time what that would mean.”
jerry sittser

And he didn’t – he didn’t know what it would mean. The whispered words of grief and pain – of a commitment to trusting and pursuing hard after God in the face of hard and broken trauma; to refuse to fight the pain of loss and bewilderment of a shattered life meant that he would come out stronger on the other side – that when the sunrise was finally burning the edges of the horizon, when the darkness was no longer consuming the air around us, he would be him, but more like Him. 

He’s 39 and I love him and his crazy antics and deep soul strength. I love his heart for Jesus and his hope that never seems to fade.

This birthday post is late, but not really, because I’m savoring these first days of the last days in his thirties.  And they are good ones.  Because he is a good one. Because he trusts so strongly in the Only One Who is Good.

Happy birthday, sweet husband. I love you.


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