I had a plan for this weekend. I thought, I can’t stop 30 from coming, so I might as well throw myself a party. So I was going to have my family over to our house yesterday, and then all my friends over today, but Chad had a different plan. Apparently, he’s had a plan since July.
On Friday night, he surprised me at our favorite restaurant with dinner with my best friends, including Jen, who flew in from Arizona. I was stunned and so excited and we had an amazing meal together. Yesterday, we had a family event in the early afternoon and then I thought we were having all my family back to our house, but when we got home I was surprised for the second time.
Chad had changed all my plans and invited all my friends and family to come over yesterday to surprise me. While we were out, he had two of my incredible girlfriends and a team of other family and friends arrange everything (according to his diagram and to-do lists). They decorated, cooked, prepped, even cleaned up a little bit for us. And we spent the afternoon into evening in our backyard with music and delicious food and our outdoor fire pit going. There was even a slideshow of pictures of me from throughout my life. And lots of my family and friends.
I thought, I can’t stop 30 from coming but I can throw myself a party. Turns out, I actually had no idea what was going on as the surprises came and everything was out of my control, but I entered 30 feeling very truly loved.
I’ve been thinking about turning 30 in terms of what I haven’t yet accomplished, what I’m still waiting to learn and do, what milestones I haven’t yet achieved. I’ve been thinking about 30, and dreading it a little bit, because I kept thinking, I’m not ready, I thought I’d be further along… But this weekend I was reminded that the better way to measure your life is by relationships and not by the things you’ve done. And when I measure my life my by relationships, by my marriage, and my friendships, and all the people who were here yesterday to be with me, 30 feels just fine. Because I have a lot. I have an ever-growing family of crazy siblings and nieces and nephews and parents. I have friends who drive (or fly) hours to be with me and bring food and conspire with my husband to plan my birthday. And my husband…
My 21st birthday was the first one Chad and I spent together and we were just starting our relationship then. Everything between us was new and as I think about it now, I realize he surprised me then too. We were in France studying abroad and he bought me a tiny French pastry cake and arranged a make-shift celebration with our friends in a courtyard. It feels like we were so much younger then, but Chad made me feel special then for our first birthday together with our France friends.
And those same friends were here with me yesterday, only now with their husbands, and I can measure 30 by the depth of those friendships that have withstood the years. And I can measure 30 by friends who were here from elementary school and high school, who never let me down and always make me feel important. And I can measure 30 by the church friends I have, who have stood by me and served alongside me and made me stronger. And I can measure 30 by the friends I’ve made at my job, who work with me every day at a non-profit where we give so much of our time and talents. And I can measure 30 by my family, both the family I was born to, the members added over the past three decades, and the family I was so lucky to become part of when I got married. I can measure 30 by the true, unending love of my husband, who makes me feel so lucky and special every day.
I might not be where I thought I’d be at age 30, but I am loved, and I have a big community of people surrounding me. The width and breadth of their character, honesty, loyalty, service, compassion, humor, and love is staggering and I’m lucky to call these people my friends and family.