happy birthday, me.

You know how whenever you have a birthday, someone is bound to ask something along the lines of:

Does it feel different?

And you're like no, it has been 17 minutes and I am exactly the same human, unsurprisingly. Well Monday was my birthday and as I scampered down the stairs in pursuit of a birthday croissantwich, I was assaulted by my Asian neighbor, who also happens to be one of my best pals. (Have I mentioned that I actually live inside of a 90's sitcom?) As she attacked me with hugs and high pitched giggles, she asked the inevitable question and for once, I was so glad someone did. 

do feel different.

I'm officially in my late twenties and I feel like that gives me more substance, more mass, more spiritual street cred. Like I should start writing fortune cookies or counseling an urban youth. And that would have made me feel panic and despair not too long ago. But after this year, I'm like BRING IT, FATHER TIME. 

Twenty-five was a big year for me.

It was a year of return. I look back on this year and I'm reminded of the Jewish concept of teshuvah - return, or turning back. Last year, I wrote about running through that fountain and how it reminded me of my truest self. 25 was a year of returning to that truest self - the things I love to do, the people I love to be with, the dreams I love to dream. I let go of my own stereotype of myself and quit my job. I moved out of the city and back north to the people who know me. I listened to my kooky old man friend and stopped whining and started writing. 

And it's lovely and ironic to me that whenever I go in search of myself, I find Jesus.

Not because I'm so much like Him (good joke) but because he designed the real me. Because I've learned -ever so painfully and slowly- that being like Jesus and being like me are not mutually exclusive goals. He created me, in all of my wonderful weirdness, with gifts and quirks and edges and dreams, not to abandon myself in pursuit of Him or a career or a marriage...but to dive headlong into who I am because I'm made in His image. I'm nothing but BelovedI find myself nestled closest to Him when I forget about the people and pressures around me and just try to be myself.

What a bizarre emancipation.

I've quoted e. e. cummings this year,

It takes a lot of courage to grow up and become who you really are. 

And I think that's why sometimes I feel exhausted down to my joints and marrow. This year, I had to be one brave little toaster. But you know what? We pass courage to each other. Encouragement came at me from all corners of the country, making me bolder and less afraid, pushing me through the fountain. So, this is a post to remember, to gather stones and build an altar.

But it is also a post of gratitude.

Thank you to everyone who commented, who liked, who shared (did you know over 90% of my new hits are from your Facebook shares?), who took the time to message me and cheer me on. I can't take credit for who I am, but man, you readers sure make it easy for me to keep returning to that person. Thanks for making 25 my most successful blogging year yet. 26 has a lot to live up to.