Wednesday, December 19

Happy Birthday

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.


  1. Happy Birthday David!

    Life may not be what you had planned it to be at this exact time, but you have the rest of your life ahead of you to find your happy ever after and I hope that this year is the beginning to that journey, all the best for you in year 27! Good luck :)

  2. When I was in the singles ward, about your age, our RS teacher said something that I really appreciated: The longer we have to prepare for marriage, the better prepared we'll be.* I hung on to that . . . and didn't get married until I was 38.** Meanwhile, I was and still am profoundly grateful for that perspective and the preparation time I was given. It was a blessing. I loved being single. I met many wonderful people and did many wonderful things. I love being married. I meet many wonderful people and do many wonderful things. A very happy birthday to you, David! Once you leave Provo, you'll realize 27 isn't so old. :-)

    * She's still not married but is still happily preparing.

    ** When I was 31 I had a brief "marital" experience (the marriage was annulled) to an abusive man, which taught me, among other things, that it is far, far better to be single than in the wrong marriage.

  3. Happy Birthday! I too never expected to be where I am today, but it's working out. Now I just trying "to enjoy the ride" (while also trying to make plans--ya gotta make some plans).

    Hope your day goes well!

  4. Happy Birthday! Like many others, I am in a completely different place in my life than I dreamed when I was young. Like you, the gospel has brought me peace and been my anchor when the waters have been rough. I wish I could reach inside your soul and fill it with healing and love and all sorts of good things. It's hard to see others in pain.

    The wife of one of our bishop's told me to always be happy about the age I reach. Never be embarrassed about it because it shows how far you have made it in this life. That was especially meaningful a few years later when my brother took his life.

    Once in a while it is good to look 'up the mountain' at our goals, but I realized a long time ago how important it is to look 'down the mountain' and see just how far I've climbed.

    You are a mountain climber if I have ever seen one! Look how far you've come! Thank you for your honesty, sincerity, and your willingness to share your climb with us.

  5. Happy birthday, David. I got married at age 30, and I suspect you'll beat me. The interesting thing is, two weeks before my 30 th birthday, I got a strong feeling I would be married within a year. I had no prospects, wasn't dating at all, unemployed, broke, living at home, and still in school. Oh, and lets not forget that my previous romantic experiences involved guys. Still, I trusted that impression, and it gave me courage when I needed it. I met my wife before the month was out, and we were engaged six weeks later.

    1. Happy birthday David.
      Don't measure your accomplishments by the world's stick! (Although my my personal estimation, your accomplishments by the world's stick are STILL amazing. Published books, sang as a lead in a live musical, created this blog, and there are a lot more which I won't mention here for lack of space!)
      As we are reminded in Alma 5, the Lord is more concerned with character--which is harder for us to see clearly. But the Lord does--and I honestly believe that the Lord is very pleased with you. For all the promptings you follow, for the people you serve, and your ongoing fight to keep your covenants. And your willingness to kneel in prayer.
      May you find all the great things the Lord wants to give you, at exactly the right time to receive them, and the endurance to make it to that point. That is my birthday wish for you.
      Thank you for being in the world and thank you for being a part of my life.

  6. Happy late Birthday! Mine is tomorrow! I have some similar reflections as I turn 25. Being where i am in life has shaped me. I am sure Heavenly Father is preparing you for the greatest companion. You will both be amazing support to each other and Heavenly Father's kingdom will rejoice when that day comes.

    Happiest of birthdays now and in the future!

  7. Whether in this life or the next, your wife is going to be SO lucky, and you will be just as lucky for her. And whether married or single keep up those small daily things you do to build up your relationship with God, yourself, and others. I'm rooting for you and everyone else in similar situations.


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