Birthdays need to be celebrated. I think it is more important to celebrate a birthday than a successful exam, a promotion, or a victory. Because to celebrate a birthday means to say to someone: “Thank you for being you.” Celebrating a birthday is exalting life and being glad for it. On a birthday we do not say: “Thanks for what you did, or said, or accomplished.” No, we say: “Thank you for being born and being among us.” On birthdays we celebrate the present. We do not complain about what happened or speculate about what will happen, but we lift someone up and let everyone say: “We love you.” –Henri Nouwen
My husband is a hard-working CPA, and my birthday is on March 24th. Today is the 50th anniversary of my arrival, actually. The fact of the matter is, my love of birthdays is not a terrific fit with the timing of tax season. In fact, my special day falls at exactly the worst possible moment for Tom. He’s so lucky, though. You see, I’m not likely to let him overlook the event on the calendar. I’m the sort of birthday “princess” who’s more likely to take out a billboard on I-465 than sit idly by in hopes someone will recall the date and share in my enthusiasm. There’s no “passive” in my “aggressive” when it comes to birthdays. Folks will roll their eyes at me sometimes. I’m sure I’ve been called “a little over the top” or even a tad narcissistic where birthdays are concerned. The truth? I have surrendered entirely to humility here. God has called me to be an active participant in what He’s doing. It might feel a little uncomfortable to some folks, but that’s ok. God delights in us, and I think He doesn’t want us to miss the beautiful gift of life. So, pile on the love. What could honor the Lord of Life more than that?!
That sounds a little overdone and lacking decorum to some of you, I know. The thing is, I feel the same way, if not more so, about the birthdays of those around me! I try very hard to find a way to wish others well on their special day. I am constantly seeking out the birthday dates of others in a very intentional way. Ad nauseum. If you aren’t hearing from me on your special day, it more than likely means I simply haven’t discovered the date YET—so send it on over! It’s my way of honoring the Lord and thanking Him for the beautiful gift of life– yours and mine!! The greatest gift we can give another is our time. We can’t make more of it, you see. This is why I try to squeeze in the walk, the breakfast celebration or the birthday dinner. And if the intended victim of my love is someone who isn’t nearby or available? I send some affirming words, or a gift…or super silly text…all the same. This is a just a small thing to which God has called me. He’s definitely called you to be His face somehow too. If you don’t know how, then simply ask Him to be the ruler of your heart, and you’ll soon have an answer.
Actually, I kind of think God knew what He was doing when He gave me this predilection for birthdays. You see, I don’t always see myself as He sees me. I can be my own worst enemy, noticing every flaw and failure. However, the truth is that I am a daughter of the King. You, my friends, are royalty as well! Jesus wants us to know our value isn’t based on how often we get things right, and it’s not lessened when we screw up. He pours out grace, and He loves us anyway.
It doesn’t feel coincidental to me that my birthday falls when it does each year–in the heart of tax season, in the depth of lent. It’s the literal moment in the calendar year where love is about to be unleashed. The Lord is absolutely crazy about us, will stop at nothing to save us, and HE GAVE HIS LIFE FOR US. As one of my favorite authors, Bob Goff, says so well, “No tomb could contain what love was about to release…when Jesus rose from the dead, He showed that our lives are the best sermon we’ve got. Pile on love.” A to the MEN, Bob. Read some of his stuff if you haven’t discovered him. Bob Goff is the bomb-diggity.
What I have found is that joy and enthusiasm is contagious. Even the hard-hearted, deeply entrenched haters of aging may roll their eyes at me, but when I come for them all ready to love them up, they usually laugh at me and say something like, “Well, I know it’s pointless to try and fight you on this, so sure! Let’s get together!” I delight in these shared moments and it sets my mind on things above. It’s a cry of the heart, a prayer of gratitude.
Even though he’s a bit of a birthday curmudgeon, Tom knew there was no use fighting my family fun night plans on his 50th back in September. He also gave me a proper acknowledgment this morning of my “BIG” number by giving me a kiss and telling me he’s now officially sleeping with an old woman. Ha! There’s no use fighting the birthday lover he’s married to, so he’s embraced the mandatory celebration pretty darn well for an old school German stoic.
“Everything comes from love, all is ordained for the salvation of man. God does nothing without this goal in mind.” –St. Catherine of Siena (total badass, and my confirmation name sake)