It's the night before our big trip, a mere 37 minutes before your 31st birthday, and before your 32nd year of life begins.
I'm thinking back to a year ago--where we both were then, what we thought we knew about our lives and where they were headed. We didn't know anything, lambkin. We had no idea how much would be utterly different in the space of a few weeks away from your 30th.
What I want to say to you today is this: I had no idea how strong you really are. I thought I knew, and if someone had asked me then, I would have answered assuredly, that yes, you were among the most resilient of men and women ever. But I didn't know, not even a little of what you are capable of.
So tonight I am pondering friendship--what that means when it comes to me and you--and I just keep coming back to Christ. We are told that we enter most fully into fellowship with Him by way of his sufferings. You and I have eaten a lot of the bread of adversity together; this past year was no exception. But this is no misery loves company construct. You are such a faithful conveyor of fun times, of heels being kicked up, silly-hearted adventures. Quite simply you have my back in a way that no one ever has. When I'm low on cash, you buy me groceries. When I'm acting like I've lost my damn mind, you break it down for me. And when I'm wrong, you tell me in no uncertain terms.
You drink from my cup--when it is bitter--as much as when it is sweet. The fellowship of suffering. Only a friend can eat the bread of adversity with you. So I considered it an honour to be there in your darkest times and to feel that I could share in your joy, when it came, when you realized you had been set free from that same heartache that just pressed on you for weeks, months, really years.
You know that adage... what doesn't kill you will make you stronger. This is the year that I watched you refuse to die. Really, every year that passes is one in which you more fully commit to live than you did the year before, but this past year, you took no prisoners.
So, you are still becoming the best of yourself, the part you are still hiding up your sleeve (thank you, John Mayer, you rock our world in so many ways). The part you could not have become if some other parts had not been sloughed off. I am glad you have been divested. It's so interesting to me, still, how much convincing it requires to get us (not just you and me, but everyone) to open ourselves to the possibility of greatness, peace, wholeness. You, my dear, are reft of the dogged confusion that characterized your life for so long--you are no longer willing to lose yourself in someone else's life and call that loss love.
2005 was a bitch of a year. It was a footbridge to this year. Ultimately, it was grace. I thank God for all of it, because here you are. Better than I've ever known you, more beautiful, more willing to take risks, unashamed of your choices, and still not bitter.
My wishes for you aren't very original. I always want you to be in full possession of yourself, first and foremost; I want you to be surrounded by people who empower you, not who sap your strength; I pray the successful meeting of your goals--personal and private; and finally, when the time comes, I desire--I covet on your behalf--a loving, faithful partner who will consider his investment and participation in your life a staggering gift; who will make it his top earthly priority.
So, we are once again getting in a car and seeing where the road leads. I think it's a metaphor. Don't you?
Here's to the soundtrack of our lives; here's to being somewhere other than here; here's to a vision of a dare to be great situation, starring you...