It’s my birthday…

Today is my birthday. Many of you know this, as you graciously wished me a very happy birthday on Facebook. Thank you for that. I know that it probably doesn’t seem very personal, and may feel like you are just adding to the crowd, but I enjoy reading all the birthday wishes. It’s great how they are spread out across the day, allowing me to feel the good wishes every hour.

From the outside looking in, today seemed like a great day. Everyone in my dorm remembered my birthday, and greeted me with warm wishes in class, in the hallways, and in the kitchen. People are so warm and welcoming here… it’s as though they are always happy to see me. I suppose that comes naturally when you are a student in seminary, surrounded by other seminary students. Pastoral care abounds.

It was as though even God was in on wishing me a happy birthday. The sun was shining today, allowing me to wear one of my favorite sundresses as I strolled outside, taking in the beautiful scenery and sun rays. A close friend here took me out to get a manicure and pedicure as a little birthday treat. My husband was wonderful, too, sending me a gorgeous arrangement of flowers on Saturday, which are proudly displayed on my bookshelf by the window where they can soak up the sun. I received a couple of e-cards – one from my husband and one from my mother-in-law – as well as phone calls from family. In fact, one family member, my sister, came to celebrate my birthday with me in person. She was here with other students from Humboldt State, and she managed to convince the group to hang out for a few hours while she came to see me and celebrate with me. While she was here, we went to a local brewery for drinks and dinner, and many of my dorm mates joined us. When I got back, the dorm gathered in the basement with a home-baked cake. It’s been a good day.

So why do I feel so down? (“My heart should be wildly rejoicing. Oh, what’s the matter with me?” fills my head accompanied by Richard Rodgers music – anyone know the reference?) The day has been filled with blessings, and yet I struggle to feel the joy that surrounds me. I hate to think of how I would feel if my day had not been so wonderful. I think I’m disappointed that my husband and I were not able to arrange a time for him to come visit, or for me to go home. We did just spend a week together during our mid-term break, but… it’s my birthday. I feel a bit like that spoiled brat who gets everything she wants except one thing, and instead of being grateful for all that she has, she can’t let go of the one thing she doesn’t have. And so I start to beat myself up for feeling down…

My Ministry & Theological Integration class that I took last year at Seattle University taught me something that is useful here, though. They taught me to stop judging my feelings and emotions, and to start welcoming them. Perhaps what I’m feeling is a bit ungrateful, but that doesn’t make the emotions any less real or valid. I need to remember to allow myself to grieve – even when the grieving seems like a “first world problem.” I know that I will be ok, but right now, I need to grieve. (Now Leslie Gore is running through my head.)Maybe that’s the only way for me to get past this.

This may be my first real “personal” post on this blog. I hesitate to post it, especially since I feel pretty lame about it. However, I said at the beginning of the year that this blog was going to be about what it’s like to be away at school… at seminary. Well, this is part of that experience – the good and the bad. And so I share it with all of you. I simply miss my husband, my dogs, my cat… I miss my home.

1 Comment

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One response to “It’s my birthday…

  1. Karen

    Very well stated, Anja – and I agree — you need to allow the feelings and not beat yourself up about those. They are real. And in many ways, sharing those feelings help others who feel the same realize their feelings are normal, too! This is great pastoral training!!!

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