Bits and pieces of my fifth birthday party float in and out of my mind. Like a snapshot, I see myself with my cousins. Little girls all dressed up. I can see a cake, a memory which comes from a picture I’ve seen.
Fast forward eleven years and mom is taking a picture of me standing in front of my first car. That was a good day!
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I know my mom baked my favorite German Chocolate cake every year. Not everyone liked it, but she baked it just for me.
I don’t mind getting older. My life is like a fine wine… getting better with time. Why is it then, that for years, my birthday has been a source of pain?
If no one knows, I can’t be disappointed.
As a young woman in the workforce, many of my colleagues would celebrate birthdays with a special lunch. As my birthday grew closer each fall, I felt the heavy dread build. I wished no one knew when my birthday was. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a rule against birthday lunches. Maybe I’ll get lucky and be sick that day. Perhaps my birthday will fall on the weekend and be forgotten.
When birthdays would come up in conversation, someone would ask when my birthday was. My response: crickets. They’d ask again: silence. I’d give a smirk and a wink in an attempt to playfully deliver the, “I don’t do birthdays” vibe. If the eager interrogator was particularly assertive, I’d give in and respond with, “in the fall.”
Who benefits from this?
Read much of my writing and it won’t take long to discover my appreciation for benefits. Food choices to benefit health. Life choices benefit my husband and children. Angst over my birthday brought benefits too.
Satan relished the opportunity I gave him every year to perpetuate the idea that I was certain for disappointment on my birthday. He benefit greatly each time I kept my birthday a secret so no one had a chance to show me love. He benefit from the memories that weren’t made with my children. Each year they saw me sweep my birthday under the rug, he benefit from my poor example.
19 Million People
There are a lot of people in the world. Satan hates us all. Nineteen million people celebrate a birthday on any given day. If he could take just one day to make people feel insignificant, a day that is suppose to be used for celebration and twist it into a day of meaninglessness, what an impact he would have. My birthday is “the day the Lord has made” and on October 29, 2017, I decided to “rejoice and be glad in it.”
The day before my birthday I attended a women’s conference. One that I’ve attended twice before. It’s God’s great love for me that placed this conference the day before my birthday. I was moved by a guest speaker who spoke these words, “you have no right to speak bad about yourself.” She was referencing what Christ did for us to allow us to be co-heirs with Him. The sacrifice. The bloodshed.
In my house speaking badly about yourself isn’t allowed. When my children are feeling low due to a mistake they made or a correction received, we role play words and phrases they can use to express their feelings. Teaching the habit of speaking God’s words and not Satan’s. “You have no right to speak badly about yourself” is not new to our family. However, God used the right person, saying it at the right time, to deliver fresh revelation, that is just what I was doing.
What they see and hear.
When I say, “I’m not really a gifts person,” my babies will forever feel their gifts aren’t good enough.
No matter how much I celebrate their birthday’s, when they witness me ushering mine away, like an ugly rodent, they’ll too question the value of their own one day.
When I don’t let them tell people, it’s mommy’s birthday, their minds attach shame to it.
Not allowing people to spend money on me probably robs them of their favorite and best way to show love. (Some people really truly give and receive love with gifts)
There are few exceptions to my actions and choices being filtered through the effects it will have on my family. My birthday will be an exception no longer.
“If God is for me, shouldn’t I be for me?”
“I’m kind of a big deal”
I’m part of the celebration.
The truth is, I’m humbled by my life. I never would have imagined the amount of joy that I am privileged to live out in my everyday. It occurs to me though, that if I praise God for my life but don’t celebrate the fact that I’m here to live it, the praise is empty. I will NOT give my God empty praise!
The night before my birthday, I told my husband that this year was going to be different. Illustrated why and how. For the man that celebrates his birthday for an entire month, the news was welcomed! We made it to church the morning of my birthday, despite some unpreventable obstacles (isn’t that just how it goes!) Instead of sitting down and hoping no one mentioned my birthday out loud, I approached my pastor and gave him a friendly jab, that if I was turning 37, that meant he was about to be 57!
I didn’t protest when my husband wanted to take us out to lunch.
I didn’t tell my daughter no when she asked if she could tell our waiter it was my birthday.
They put a sombrero on my head, sang really loud, and covered my cheeks in whip cream.
My husband prepared our Sunday meal, cleaned up after and put the kids in a bath.
The entire day was one opportunity after another for God to allow me to feel His love. Choosing to agree with what He says about me and my birthday. Deciding to tell Satan, “you no longer get to rob this day.” “God’s word is truth and you are a liar. Including MY birthday.”
What does this mean for the kids?
“I’m so excited, my tail is wagging!” (an actual child said this, and you just gotta know her to understand how profound it is!)
“Mommy, my heart is so full of love because of your birthday”
“This was your best birthday ever, wasn’t it?”
“Is it your birthday AGAIN?” (stated every time Happy Birthday was sang)
Throw your own birthday party.
Mom’s commonly have to “bring their own birthday.” Unless you have a lot of very involved, attentive people in your life, with extra time to spare, moms will usually have to “throw themselves a birthday party.” This is exactly what I did and it is was the biggest challenge to overcome. It’s easier to shrink back and think, “well, if no one is going to care enough to do it for me, it just won’t happen.” That sort of stinkin’ thinkin’ is what gives the enemy a playground in our emotional well being. Likely, even when people do make an effort, it doesn’t feel like enough.
Laying your expectations down is a good habit. I’m glad to have added my birthday to the list of dead expectations.
Each moment in life is an opportunity you won’t get back. I celebrated myself on my birthday to keep in line with God’s word. Psalm 139:14
If I hadn’t, my heart would have suffered. My children would have suffered. And it would have been all my doing.