My past birthdays have not always been the most memorable days for me to look back on with fondness. Each year creates space for my heart to sit in ambivalence. My deepest longings and timid expectations jumble into a complicated pinata-sized package waiting for my colorful bat of fears and insecurities to start swinging. I have been known to blindly skirt around my secret hopes instead of risking my truth, risking disappointment, and risking the possibility of unknown beauty awaiting me.
Last year I decided to embrace the possible, so we traveled to the most magical place on earth—Walt Disney World. With my parents, my husband, and our two-year-old son in tow, I soaked in the beauty of three theme parks while being 25 weeks pregnant with our second baby.
I wanted this birthday to be special, so on my actual birthday we spent the whole day at Magic Kingdom. The sunny day was filled with laughter, fun rides, moments of rest, chocolate-dipped cookies as large as my head, and many meetings with fairy tale princesses. It truly was the perfect birthday.
Then, as we were exiting Belle’s cottage, a drop of rain plopped onto my nose. A second later a raindrop grazed my cheek while another tested the strength of my waterproof mascara. A roll of thunder announced an onslaught of rain. Hurriedly we shrugged on our raincoats and encased our happily screaming toddler in a transparent, stroller poncho. We followed the masses to shelter from the rain, waiting out what we hoped was a just a summer shower.
When my son became too energetic for his stroller, my dad pulled him outside and they marched around in the rain singing loudly for all to hear. We laughed and clapped our hands in unison while sitting on wet stools beneath a green-and-white awning. With a flash of lightning, the storm, having gained strength from our moment of energy, unleashed more thunder and intense rain from its dark clouds.
My birthday funday appeared to be abruptly cut off, and my heart began to sink. This was supposed to be a magical, redemptive day, but instead I was trapped in this spot, soggy from the pouring rain.
The age-old instinct to crawl inside of myself and give in to disappointment felt as deafening as the thunder.
Then I remembered the sacred words written across the back of my raincoat: The storm will pass. Purposefully, I closed my eyes and listened to the chatter of people around me and my son’s happy cheers. I felt my unborn baby give my belly a few thumps and my husband gently rub my shoulder. I focused on the refreshment of cold rain on my legs. I took a deep breath and inhaled the scent of warm, sugary food from the kiosk behind us.
The storm will pass.
Opening my eyes, I saw Cinderella’s castle peeking out from the flags flying over the princess meet-and-greet building. The storm had exhausted itself, and the sky was shrugging off the darkness that had failed to contain it. Thunder continued to rumble softly as the rain eased. The magic of the day burst into song once again as we stepped out from awnings and doorways.
The storm will pass.
This month I will be celebrating 33 years of life. As my birthday inches closer, I am trying to be intentional to sit in spaces where hope and longing remain open to fulfillment in all its forms. We won’t be celebrating at Walt Disney World this year, but I’m remembering the feeling of electricity igniting my skin and soul as I walked into the rainfall, arms outstretched. My heart feels at peace and is open to receiving whatever this new day of celebration contains for me.
Mal Arnold is a passionate Latina wife and mother who is a chaser of dreams and believes in living life with abandon. She writes to pour some of herself out for any who care to experience her heart, but is also an avid reader, lover of old movies and going on journeys with family as well. She has seen heartache and trauma in her past and is learning to let her Maker heal her broken places.