I love the number 28. There’s no familial meaning assigned to it, it’s not the date of my birthday, and there are no sports figures I idolize bearing this jersey number. Yet, it does have significance in my life.
Four days after turning 21, I flew to Vegas to meet my study abroad friends for a birthday reunion. There were twenty of us, flying in from across the country, and even a few from Germany. We were celebrating my birthday, and Joan’s, and Kari’s, a reunion of the friendships we made in Australia months before. Our first night in Vegas, we went down to the casino floor in Caesar’s, straight to the roulette table. A gentleman sat down on the end, an obvious high roller, well known by the table attendant. $200 on 28 black, his first bet, always. It hit.
According to the Bible, there are 28 “times” in this life:
A time for birth and a time for death
a time for planting and a time for uprooting
A time to kill and a time to heal
A time to destroy and a time to build
A time to cry and a time for laughter
A time to mourn and a time to dance
A time to throw stones and a time to gather them
A time to embrace and a time to refrain
A time to search and a time to lose
A time to keep and a time to discard
A time to tear and a time to sew
A time for silence and a time to speak
A time to love and a time to hate
A time for war and a time for peace.
I was engaged on February 28th and seven months later on September 28th, just two years ago today, I walked down the aisle. I received divorce papers on February 28th and the J.O.D. on May 28th.
Shauna Niequist describes feeling similar dates on the calendar as a minefield, tiptoeing around explosions of grief. The dates when things fell apart, when dreams died, when the bad news came, when everything changed. I understand this, and I’m sure you have some semblance of it too. A death, a job loss, a medical diagnosis, a financial crisis, a miscarriage, a betrayal.
I’ve silently held my breath looking at the calendar before, as the dates get closer. There are a few of them, different meaning assigned to each.
I find that God meets us in every situation, both in celebration and in mourning. That’s what trust is: knowing you are not alone, believing that God meets us where we are as we are, and having faith that he will lead you where you’re meant to go.
There’s always a silver lining, and if you keep yourself open to both the emotion and the possibilities on those days, you’ll find they are beautiful. Over seasons, pain dulls and wounds heal. The time for war gives way for the time of peace, the time of death emerges to a time of new life, and the time of destruction allows for the new foundation to build.
28 is cyclical after all.
So I choose to celebrate this September 28th, not for what the day meant, or what was promised and broken, not in reliving someone’s choice to stop loving, and not in what should have been.
But rather, in celebration of the story of my life, unfolding one chapter at a time. In celebration of who I am, where I’ve been, and who I’m becoming. In celebration of life in Christ, who never leaves us and never chooses to stop loving us.
Reflection on a life defined by how well I love others, my greatest charge in this world: when its easy and convenient, and more significantly, when its messy and confusing.
I was in Vegas the day after receiving divorce papers this year. Down to the casino floor, $10 on 28 black. My first bet, always, I decided. It hit.
And if you ever find yourself in Vegas, may I suggest the 8 oz filet mignon at Gordon Ramsay’s Steak inside Paris, perfectly aged in a Himalayan salt chamber for, you guessed it, 28 days.