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The Jesus Year: A Birthday Reflection On My 33rd Year

The Jesus Year: A Birthday Reflection On My 33rd Year

man carrying cross

In just a short couple of days, I will be turning 34 years old. Every year about this time, I go through a series of emotional peaks and valleys. I find myself so introspective at birthdays. My heart swells with gratitude, and my eyes look back on the triumphs – and the tribulations – of the previous year.

I spent most of my 20s looking forward to year 30. I hoped that the new decade would introduce a level of surety and flat-footedness that the previous one had left to be desired. Sure enough, year 30 proved to be the one where I was the most confident and the most free. Right before that birthday, I started this blog. Letting go of certain baggage paved the way for my forever love waking into my life in year 31. Year 32 would mark the end of my corporate career – perhaps the biggest leap of faith I have ever taken.

But then there was a stillness of sorts. I’m not just talking about the physical stillness in the world in 2020. I’m talking about the stillness within myself. I was expecting to hit the ground running and get a harvest on the seeds I had sown. After all, 33 is the so-called “Jesus Year.”

The Jesus Year – What If It Doesn’t All “Click?”

The Jesus Year is a somewhat new fixation on the 33rd year of life in parallel to the year that Jesus died. The last three years of Jesus’ life are regarded as his most active in ministry. The literal standard of Jesus is a tall order, so instead, we broadly take this as the year for us to finally get our lives together. In theory, this is the year that everything just “clicks” and comes together.

One thing we largely ignore by this logic is the fact that Jesus died in this year. I put so much focus and hope in the “signs, wonders, and miracles” that I’d finally have the time and space to perform that I neglected to consider the trials. After all, for what Jesus contributed, his physical life ended in betrayal and death. Jesus worked hard in his last years, demonstrating the power of the Father and telling the hard truths without shame. Though I may try to emulate him, I am not Jesus. Although, I am yet alive another year, in truth, I have experienced much death internally this year. I have struggled with fading vision and confidence. So very many times I have questioned my direction and utility.

open tomb with three crosses

I have made my most earnest effort yet to be what I’ve been called to be and do what I’ve been called to do. But much like the sacrifice of Jesus’ death is significant, the most powerful hope lies in his resurrection. Where the end of my year has left me feeling entombed, I press forward, knowing that I, too, do not have to stay dead. I do not have to accept the death of my dreams. I do not have to accept the death of my God-given inspiration. Not even death is a rival for God’s living power in my life.

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I end this year, moving into the next, wondering what my personal resurrection will look like – and what it will mean for others. I press on knowing that it isn’t just about me. I wonder who and what is depending on me to overcome. With this, I give myself permission to be made whole and new and to hope once more for a new beginning.

Here’s to year 34.

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  • Awesome post!! All you have said is so true. I love being in my 30’s, but the trials that come with it bring new meaning. The valleys get a little wider as our steps get a little slower…as we walk more carefully to avoid as many pitfalls as possible. But the discernment that comes in our 30’s is priceless!! Happy Early Birthday!!! I hope that you enjoy it to the fullest 🙂

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