I was born 27 years ago... right as the sun was rising in a hospital in downtown Chicago. Among other things, that meant that my first day was one of the shortest days that year... and the next night, one of the longest.
In the years since, I've made a mess of my life. Swam competitively, then quit when I was getting really good. Danced and sang, but walked off the stage before I got a break. Won and lost academic honors and scholarships, fought addictions and lost to temptations, and broke a dozen girls' hearts trying to figure out my own.
And I wonder if I've really changed all that much from the newborn baby I was. Gotten better.
I can remember a handful of my birthdays. I have videotapes of the first two to augment my memory - spending time up at Telluride with my grandparents and great-grandparents, getting a 6-foot stuffed bear as a present, being with family because it's so close to Christmas. Walking home from school a few years later, it began hailing hard enough that the hailstones cut my ears. Or at least felt like they did. Spending time with family in Ohio, or Utah, in years moving forward. Wanting to die at 16 with a mix of depression, isolation, and recent abuse. At 20, my golden birthday, I was on an island in the Mediterranean, with a companion I was convinced who hated me, waiting for hours while he packed for transfer day, which came early because we had to ride a boat for 19 hours back to Rome. At 22, failing two out of three final exams at BYU that day and hoping that I'd at least pass with a C+ to get credit for my major.
And now 27.
If life had gone as I planned it, today I'd be working in a plant genetics laboratory, married with 3 kids - ages 4, 2, and 1. Gabriel, Rebecca, and David. Tiny home or apartment, with barely enough room for food storage. Totally in love with my wife, my kids, my life... and doing all I can to make a difference in the world.
Instead, I'm single, with no real prospects anywhere close to marriage. I haven't gone on a date in over a month. Still in school, studying business (of all things) and waiting to hear back from Stanford's PhD program. Struggling with the same temptations I did ten years ago, but which have grown stronger. The same depression. The same isolation.
What do I have to show for 27 years of life? A handful of thank-you letters, a list of past accomplishments that proves that I'm "diverse," and a couple of diplomas.
And a relationship with God that is worth all the frustration and pain and anguish I've felt in life... and probably will continue to feel. If I only had that... and in many ways that is all I have that's worthwhile... it would be worth it.
I guess, in 27 years, at least I've moved somewhere. I've learned that God is real and learned to hear His voice and see His hand. I can write decently. I've learned to love people, I've found ways to serve others, and I am slowly improving who I am... slowly overcoming my own imperfections and inadequacies.
Happy Birthday. Only 70 more to go.