Ashton RayComment


Ashton RayComment

It’s my birthday.

Today marks 21 years since i made my loud, cold entrance into the world.

It was a Tuesday. i don't remember any of it, but i'm assuming it was loud and cold.

There are a lot of days where i still feel like i'm learning to walk. 

The truth is that i'm not a big fan of birthdays. i was all about them when i was a kid and i spent my day dressed as a princess and inhaling cake. At 21, i don't want to dress as a princess and i'm not a big cake fan, but that's okay. i truly wish i could spend today celebrating all of my favorite people and giving them gifts while i nonchalantly turned a different age. Turns out birthdays don't work that way. i'll just spend the next 364 days celebrating all my favorite people.

Right now i am sitting in the "dad-chair" of my house. The morning light is spilling in from our living room windows and the trees outside are dancing in the fall breeze. My cat is in my lap and i am attempting to balance my computer on the space that isn't be occupied by one fur-covered Bruce Wayne. i made myself coffee this morning in a chemex that i bought in Washington D.C. last Thanksgiving. i'm drinking the coffee out of a mug that i purchased in Portland over Spring Break. i think that in itself tells you a lot of what my year has been like, but really those trips were just verses in the song.

These days are so often spent remembering all the past 365 days have held. i have only lived a few hours of today, but they have been full of remembering and giving thanks. This week has been spent looking back over all that 20 offered me. It was heavy and light. i visited the East and West Coast and returned to Guatemala and got more tattoos. But i also hit the lowest low and the highest high this year. i spent days praying to die and others overwhelmed with how great it felt to be alive. It was a year of extremes, i think. It was a poem of joy and pain and sadness and the white and the black and a lot of gray. i learned to sing songs of thanksgiving but i also spent mornings writhing in the pain that came with existing. The struggle was not beautiful, but my Maker brings beauty from ashes.i think that 20 was the most pivotal year of my life so far. My God made it beautiful.

At 20, i was a student, a camp counselor, a writer, a hair-cut boycotter, a sister, a missionary, a reader, a daughter, a college drop out, an intern, a friend, a coffee snob, and more. i felt challenged and loved and forgotten and strong and unwanted and able and unworthy and a million other things. i think the good outweighed the bad, but i think the bad felt heavier than the good. We are outrageously inconsistent beings. i am glad that God did not make us boring. i am so thankful that He has given us a secure identity in Him.

At 21, so far, i have watched Star Wars and prayed and made coffee and received a lot of sweet words from a lot of incredible humans. i woke up at 7:45, which i am outrageously confused about but i am thankful for this morning. It is my "golden birthday" and i am declaring 21 to be my golden year. i am not really sure what that will mean, but i'm excited about it. 

It would be really easy for me to walk into this year with trembling hands and a guarded heart. As the cold months are coming, it would be easy for me to begin to hide in myself and shy away. i could live in fear of could-be depression and say goodbye to wonder, but i will not. This year is going to be different. This year i am going to walk into the cold season with my head held high and my smile wide and a full heart because God will be good no matter what state my mental health is in. i will give thanks no matter what. i am learning that we don’t have time to do anything but thank God for His never ending graces. 

i have lived today in a posture of gratitude because i would be discrediting God if i called my birthday anything less than a miracle. It is His grace alone that has carried me here. It is because of His grace that i never allowed the temptation of the darkness to rob me of more birthdays. Today i am celebrating because i am alive, well, and joyful.

Birthdays come with a lot of unknowns and questions of what’s ahead. i do not know what this year will bring, but these are the things that i do know: i am loved by God, a lot of people, and this life is a gift. This is the year that i will accept God’s grace and believe His truth before the lies that attempt to cloud my brain. i will not let fear separate me from the abundance that i am promised. i will start this year believing that i am who He says that i am and holding onto His hope more than anything else. 

i am thankful to be celebrating 21. i am thankful that the journey here was not easy, but full. Who i am today is not an accident. 

Here’s to 21.