I just celebrated another birthday. Besides wilting skin, the imaginary birthday girl tiara on my head, and the presents I intend to buy myself, I think of the song Birthday by the Beatles on my 365th day of orbit around the sun. Anthony Michael Hall sings it to Molly Ringwald in the film, Sixteen Candles. “They say it’s your birthday, well it’s my birthday too, yeah!”
Whether it’s your birthday too, or just another day when age sixteen feels really far away, there are a lot of lessons birthdays teach.
This is what I learned from mine:
Birthday lists are important: Every year my husband pesters me to tell him what I want for my birthday, and every year I can’t think of one single thing to get. Yet, there are many things I want. I just talk myself out of them because I don’t want to clean puppy pee off the floor. Birthdays give us a chance to consider what we want. For many of us, that feels uncomfortable. Still, it’s important to know what you want in life, because it’s short, and precious, and as far as we know, we only get one shot at it. What do you want?
Gifts are great: Who doesn’t like opening presents?! It’s so fun to size up the box, give it a little shake, and then rip the pretty paper off that is suffocating the thoughtful gift inside. I haven’t always thought of my life as a gift. I have taken it for granted, given away too many days to sour thoughts and staid reflections. But, birthdays remind me to give gratitude to the ultimate gift-giver. I always try to offer thanksgiving to God, but on my birthday, I am especially humbled by his goodness. I see the gift of each day: the sorrows, joys, trials, and the spaces in between. All of it, a gift. All of it inspires me to try to be a gift to others.
Make a wish: Remember the joy you felt as a kid when you blew out your birthday candles and actually believed that wishes came true? The promise of God offers the same hope, exhilaration, and chance for redemption. But do we recognize it? Do we see the flickering light of God within us? Do we believe in answered prayers, things unseen, and everyday miracles? “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you,” (Matthew 7:7, ESV). Make a wish. Put your faith in God. Trust in his divine providence. Be excited again.
Let yourself receive: As Christians, we are taught to be other-centric, however, it’s also important for us to accept and acknowledge the blessings in our lives. Birthdays are special days and thoughtful gestures from others make us feel cherished. But God intends us to feel that way every day. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1) What a gift it is to be a child of God, to know that despite the years that pass, time’s toil on our bodies, and the heartaches that dot the timeline of our lives, he delivers the promise of eternity.
Birthday or not, there is no greater gift.
Is there anything you would add to this list? Miss last week’s post?