For Rissa on her 26th birthday
Remember last year? (And how could you forget?) We were reeling with shock and sadness and it was raining, constantly raining, and we were filling the days with doctor appointments and tests and scans and worry. And it just kept raining.
A soft and gentle God-is-crying-with-you kind of rain.
And your birthday was coming. You weren’t sick and it was hard to believe something so evil was lurking. It was so hard to believe. There was a heaviness that I can’t explain. Even now I can feel that first-week heaviness and the helplessness of sinking down.
But it was your birthday. So we celebrated. Remember the hurricane and the cancelled party at the park and the Howells opening up their home so that we wouldn’t all be washed away? Do you remember all the people who came to say “Happy birthday?” And the sad looks not quite hidden behind the birthday hugs?
Because you are loved.
Loved by your people and loved by your God. And it matters, because it means you are never alone.
And now it is time to celebrate again, to celebrate the day of your birth. The day you first opened your eyes to light. Alive in a secret moment and loved before time began, but now awakened to light.
And it is beautiful, isn’t it, sweet girl? The sun rising and then setting again at end of day? The sparkling night skies? The light along the path that guides you? The light of God shining in your heart? The light you bear as you testify to the truth of Him?
And you have seen the light in a new way this year. You have felt its slow and steady warmth, and you have seen the rays peak through on the rainiest of days. You have known the Light of the world and His presence spreading peace and guiding your steps. You have been cheered by a thousand lights of kindness along the way. You have been a light to those who watch you travel this hard road.
We are born into startling light and born again when we see the Light. But we adjust to it and eventually take it for granted. Cling to the Light, Rissa. Soak up the warmth of the Light. Be grateful for the Light.
And shine on, dear girl. In this new year, no matter what it holds, shine on. On the darkest days, open your eyes and your heart to the light.
It is a gift from your heavenly Father, and it will never fail you. Reflect His light.
Let it shine.
I love you, Rissa. Happy birthday.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17)
Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)