"When you're twenty-five-ish, you're old enough to know what kind of music you love, regardless of what your last boyfriend or old roommate always used to play..."  [Shauna Niequist in Bittersweet]

I like Glee, and maybe possibly some Lady GaGa - I don't care what anyone says.

Today I turn 25.  25 on the 25th of August.  If I were into numerology (or anything at all to do with numbers, like, say, mathematics) I might think this was significant.  As I was thinking about this birthday, and the first quarter of my life, I started to write something like, "I'm a little heavier than I was at 24..."  and then I realized that's not true. I'm heavier than I was when I was 22 - but motherhood and sweeping life changes (but mostly motherhood) have sort of blurred the last few years together into one big season.  A lump of time that isn't measured by days or months or years, but by exactly how long it will take to get Madeline out of pull-ups.

At any rate...

I just finished a book titled Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist, and in the book there is a chapter called "twenty-five."

It contains one of my favorite little snippets of the book, which you should all go read, by the way.  I thought I would share, in honor of 25.

Shauna writes,

"I felt more and more like myself with each passing year, for better and for worse, and you'll find that, too.  Every year you will trade a little of your perfect skin and your ability to look great without exercising for wisdom and peace and groundedness, and every year the trade will be worth it.  I promise."

Yes.  I love it.  I was telling a friend of mine, a few months ago, how much I love the "softness" I keep discovering in myself.  Not just around my abdomen, either.  I actually really hate that softness and wouldn't mind if it got lost in the Bermuda Triangle or something, never to be seen again.  I'd even throw it a going away party.  Bon Voyage, little mommy pouch!

But I love the softness that marriage and motherhood and growing up has formed within me.  I'll look back through pictures every so often and wonder how on earth Dan could have fallen in love with someone so brash - with such a compulsive need to talk and laugh all the time.

A few weeks after I had Madeline I tried to express to a friend what motherhood was like, and all I could think to say was this:

"I'm softer.  Everything about Madeline is soft: soft hair, soft skin, soft little pink clothes, soft blankets, soft sweet breath, soft hands, soft feet, soft little baby noises - squeaks, squawks, yawns, hiccups, and sighs.  Everything about her is delicate, and it's contagious.

There is a transcendent gentleness in the house, now, and things inside of me are shifting.  I'm less of a brash, trendy, twenty-something, and I feel like I got out in the nick of time.  Something in my core has settled into its proper place, and I think I'm learning something that's central to womanhood."

I "get" compassion in a whole new way.  I have a better understanding of meekness, humility, and selflessness - all of those virtues that brash, loud people are afraid of.  I used to be afraid of them.  I thought that the two were mutually exclusive - that I couldn't be funny and social, and still be meek.  Oh, but I can!   And when we're honest with ourselves, those intimidating virtues (like humility, that are so completely contrary to our nature) are magnetic.  If I were choosing friends, I would choose humble, kind, wise, soft, compassionate people...and funny...who listen to good music.  Those are the kinds of people I like to be around.

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight."  [1 Peter 3:3-4]

Let me be clear, I'm pro-goofiness and loud music.  I LOVE fashion, and over-sized jewelry has a very special place in my heart.  But it is not where my beauty comes from.

People always say you shouldn't pray for humility because then you'll end up getting humbled, which is uncomfortable by definition.  I think that's absolutely silly.  I so desire humility, because it's so much more beautiful than brash.

At 25, I'm praying for humility.  Trading perfect skin for groundedness.  I'm learning (note the present progressive tense of the verb) softness, and "the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit."

Oh, I'm also gonna party like it's my birthday.