Twenty-Nine

I turned 29 last month. It was largely uneventful. But that’s to be expected when you’re in the middle of a pandemic.

I’ve never really been a big birthday girl. I’ve never had a surprise party or wanted a huge deal made out of my “special day.” Each year came and went without much noise.

I had come to terms with birthdays. Another year older, another year of growth, wisdom, and hopefully clarity. In my early twenties I was dying to be in my thirties. I was looking forward to being further along in my career, my calling, my leadership. I felt like a horse being held behind a gate before a race. I was ready to run, but it wasn’t the right time. I wasn’t developed enough as a leader to run full speed ahead into the calling that I was so confident in. But, man, I bet I would be in my thirties…

I welcomed my birthdays in my twenties. Until 27.

I turned 27 in the middle of my separation and eventual divorce. Not to mention, I was on a sabbatical from ministry to seek God and begin the healing process. I was alone in every way.

That year my birthday didn’t signify growth and forward motion. It signified brokenness, waiting, and reevaluating everything I knew about marriage.

I’ve never been one to hold to the stigmas of singleness at a certain age, but the southern girl in me occasionally pops her head out. I was all but panicking about entering my late-20’s as a single female.

28 was more of the same. I was still stuck, still waiting, still stigmatized by singleness. My confidence in my calling wavered some nights — but it never changed. I was still called, still wanting to move forward, still ready to be released.

I remember a distinct, underlying fear the week leading up to those birthdays. The fear that no one would celebrate me, no one would take ownership of my birthday. Because who would? I wasn’t anyone’s responsibility. Maybe that was the hardest part.

As 29 got closer, those feelings started to rise to the surface again. But I wasn’t going to go into another birthday defeated. I spent the last two months of this pandemic nailing down my confidence again. I’m tired of resigning myself to this “stuck” feeling. I’m tired of waiting on someone else to move me forward. I’m tired of letting my circumstances dictate my outlook.

I started my birthday week claiming empowerment. It’s not my favorite word, but it was my word for my 29th year whether I liked it or not.

Unfortunately, a few days leading up to my birthday I was directly exposed to Covid-19. That meant I was ushered into quarantine. No work, no friends, no birthday. My fear of being alone for the 3rd birthday in a row was confirmed.

Luckily, I tested negative, and my best friend celebrated me with dinner. Amidst my complaining, self-pity, and loneliness, she made sure I wasn’t alone. Even when it seemed like everything was out to make sure all my fears were finalized, God sent someone. Isn’t that what He does?

When it’s darkest, when you’re the loneliest, when you’re hopeless — He sends someone. He sent Jesus. He sent the Spirit. It’s what He does.

He sent someone to pull me out of my pit, to remind me of my purpose, and to push me toward my calling. My birthday wasn’t wasted. It didn’t get to beat me this year.

So today, a month later, I’m claiming empowerment again. Some days I can’t. Some days I need to be reminded. Some days I need God to send someone again. But today, I’m ready.

29 is the year I am going to step forward into purpose whether or not someone else releases me to do so. I have a calling on my life given by God that no man (or woman), including myself, can remove. So I’m going to be about it. 30 doesn’t know what’s coming.

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Kaley Hollingsworth

I’m about Jesus, life change, doggos, enneagram tings, and finger-gunning my way out of awkward situations.