I’m 34 today! I’ve arrived at another birthday and oh my GOLLY, am I grateful for more life.
I’d had a feeling that 33 was going to be a big year. I’m not sure why—maybe it’s because I’ve gone to church my entire life and so the age of 33 sticks out to me as the age Jesus was when He left this earth. 33 was a memorable age for him so why couldn’t it be the same for me?
And it was. I spent half of my year pregnant, growing the baby girl who I will finally get to meet within the first couple months of being 34. (Ahhh!)
It’s true—I didn’t walk on water, raise someone from the dead, or die for the sins of the world this past year. But I did learn a lot about new life and, with it, the necessary role of death. Jesus is all about new life but even for Him, it first required a death.
I found out about my pregnancy the day before my half birthday, on August 15th. It’s the kind of new life I’d been hoping and waiting for but, somehow, didn’t at all expect. As this new life has been developing and growing, I’ve already experienced a number of deaths. My body, my perspective, our finances, our marriage—these things aren’t as they once were (and, yes, I know this is only the beginning of the changes). This new little life forming within me will not—cannot—come without some loss of how things used to be. My husband and I have to lay a few things to rest in order to make space for her new life.
It’s not just true in welcoming a baby to the family. We make space for new life when we’re willing to clear some things out. There is no resurrection without a death; there is no spring without a winter. Sometimes the deaths happen without us having a say in the matter, and sometimes they’ll only happen when we choose to make them happen. But if my time as a 33-year-old taught me anything, it’s the stunning glory of new life with the necessary presence of death.
Sometimes the new life isn’t quite as obvious as a baby growing inside of you. Sometimes we can only see or feel the death without knowing what newness is coming. I cannot stress enough how deeply I understand this. When the death occurs and then, three days later, the tomb still isn’t empty? Yes—I’ve been there. I’ll be there again, too, I’m sure.
With our pregnancy, much of the death has come after we learned about the new life, but it rarely happens in this order. I’ve been in seasons—long ones—when the loss was great. Space had been painfully cleared out to make room for something new, but the newness wasn’t coming. I felt stuck in the death, staring at the tomb wondering if that was it—the end of the story.
Here’s what I know to be true: Because of what Jesus did when he was 33, there is no death without new life. It doesn’t happen. Every new life carries with it some element of death, but there is no death without the birth of something new. Even when we’ve reached our final birthday and our physical death is upon us, new life gets the final word.
For every figurative death I experienced this past year, the promise of new life has literally been growing right in front of me. I’ve never believed it more than I do now, as I step into this new year. There will be deaths, but that’s not all there will be.
I experienced life more profoundly when I was 33 because of the experiences Jesus had when he was 33. So here, my friends, is to 34. To new life and, yes, to death, too. The hope of life is coming, whether it’s today, tomorrow, on a due date in April, or when I write my 35th birthday post. There will be loss but, thank you, Jesus, the story ends with life.