I woke up that morning just like it was any other day. For the first time in my life I wasn’t really looking forward to turning a year older. I practically felt nothing, deadpan, blank. The messages on my phone were left unread, many calls unanswered. I didn’t want to make a big fuss about of turning twenty five. I got up from bed quietly as both of my sisters were still sound asleep and looked out my apartment window- the city was bathed in early morning light and the sky a had a soft blueish glow. It was beautiful but I was too groggy to actually take it all in. I mumbled a short prayer of gratitude and proceeded to take a hot shower. I snuck out successfully ,went down the elevator and was greeted by the lobby boy just like it was any other day. I breathed a heavy sigh of relief. If I got a happy birthday from him, I’d freak out. My desire to have my birthday remain relatively obscure was still pretty much intact. I tried to make my morning coffee run to the nearby Seven eleven a bit celebrative by eating the red velvet cupcake Rosee and Zyra surprised me with at midnight (and I think I even tried to skip a bit on my way there) but still, I felt quite numb to all the beautiful things that were happening around me. I had happier morning coffee runs around the neighbourhood- I expected to be happier, it was after all my freaking birthday! Something was wrong with me and I hated my unexplained nonchalance. Our work van picked me up just as I finished my cup of coffee and I went in greeted by a series of Happy birthday’s from my coworkers. I even got handed a present by my friend Marga. It was hard not to smile at this point but I was still weirdly fighting it. ”So this is what 25 looks like.” I muttered in my head as I did a quick touch up in the van and examined the stress induced dark circles around my eyes and my post adolescent acne. That’s when it hit me, I was simply tired. I was jet lagged, overworked, exhausted from trying to cram so many things all in a week. I actively chose not to rest and was neglecting the one thing that was of the essence. I’d get nudges from the Holy spirit all throughout the week calling me to rest for a while and to pause, but I was consumed the overwhelming number of things to tick off on my to-do list. My desktop wallpaper bore my heart’s cry - the word “Hustle” glared at me, hand drawn in metallic gold over watercolor foliage. I was doing things in my own strength, driven by my pride and self reliance. I let the values of the world reinforce me- I told myself I was a “go getter”, so I worked myself to exhaustion, completely ignoring the still , strong voice within me that told me to take a breather and just pause. On the remainder of our drive to the wedding shoot, I took that short time to do just that. God had revealed once more how the reason for my inability to fully experience all the wonderful blessings around me was my detachment from Him-I had put other things first. He is the vine, and we are the branches and apart from Him, we can do nothing. I got my birthday message loud and clear. A few days after, when the things I had to do stared to pile up again, I found out that God wasn’t done yet. He was still in the process of making a point.
I spent the whole morning scavenging through a pile of clothes in my apartment, tracing back my steps,calling up people and going to all the establishments I recently visited- my hard drive, the very one that carried a year’s worth of hard work , was gone. After hours of sweaty searching I had given up and had come to the conclusion that I had left my hard drive in the cab. I don’t know how I wasn’t screaming and freaking out at that point but the first thing I thought of was how God must really loved me, that this predicament He was pursuing me and calling me to look up and cling to him. The thought of losing all of those files really stung, but I kept on thinking back on how God always gives us what we need and how He sometimes takes things away for our own good. I knew that it was His grace that was allowing me to just surrender and trust Him fully in that situation. The pursuit of our dreams and goals ( even when we labor for His glory) is useless without His grace, His anointing. "Anything that is to be done for God is not to be done by power or by might, but by my Spirit says the Lord. " Striving to be all that God has called you to be is greatly dependent on how much you can rest in His grace. It’s quite a beautiful paradox. I was reminded once again, that without Him, I was nothing. I had put my hopes on a flimsy black box and my dreams, although put in my heart by God Himself, were turning into tiny little idols. I thought about C.S. Lewis’ words and how they really struck a cord in me- ”Prosperity knits a man to the world. He feels that he is finding his place in it, while really, it is finding its place in him. “ God wasn’t going to let me go and let me slip into my old ways. In that moment of loss, I felt an overwhelming amount of love from our Father. He wasn’t done with me yet-He was testing my character, forming me and molding me into someone who I pray, is used mightily for His kingdom. I clung on to His promises, to the fact that God always wants the best for His children. I felt His pursuit of me even when I had failed to pursue Him. l will forever look back at this scene from the story of my life, with happiness: There I was-Katrina, 25 years old, in the confines of my apartment, on my knees, in my track pants, sweaty from running around all morning. I had never felt more loved and wanted in my life.
A few hours after, I got news that my hard drive had been found. I breathed a huge sigh of relief. God still wanted me to continue in the task He had placed in my heart, but only after He had given me such a strong reminder. By His grace, I also got to enjoy the remainder of my birthday. I found myself in His presence once again and as soon as I realised it was the only place I really needed to be for me to become truly joyful, He took away the fog that wasn’t allowing me to see all the beautiful things that were happening around me- another year of life, messages and surprises from family and friends, dreams that have come true, a marriage proposal (Okay, maybe I made this last one up) but more than anything, the gift of GRACE, the gift of God’s love and friendship- the very thing that anchors me in the midst of life’s storms. I guess got a taste of the quarter life crisis I hoped for during my more dramatic early teens. But at the end of it all, I stand redeemed, renewed, made aware of my fragile state and my need for the Lord. For He said to me ” My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so Christ’s power may rest in me. 2 Corinthians 12:9