It happens every year. I have a birthday.
More years than not, I seem to start to get a bit funky about a week before my actual birth day. I don’t mind aging. I actually come from this line of women who like to mature and who have cast this positive light on what it means to grow older, wiser and more at peace with themselves. No, I don’t mind aging. It’s the actual birthday that somehow gets under my skin.
Last year I started addressing the root of this birthday funk and I realized that I had this unfounded fear that no one would celebrate me. I have usually been well celebrated. My parents threw me birthday parties. My boys (including my husband) always decorate our home and do silly things for me that show they care.
Friends come by unexpectedly with gifts or cards.
Facebook is filled with notifications of good wishes. I am overly blessed when it comes to being acknowledged on my birthday. It feels a little selfish to want this attention and recognition. I want to say it doesn’t matter if anyone celebrates me, because that is what I think I should say. I mean, truly, in my right mind and my more mature self (we did say we were maturing here, right?) I know that it truly isn’t about me even though it is my birthday. I really want to be a blessing and show gratitude for my life. But, I also think it is perfectly alright to want to be celebrated. That’s what I’d tell a friend if she were in my shoes. I’d say, “I hope you are well celebrated and you should be, you are amazing!” Somehow I sometimes hold a different standard for myself than I do for others. God continues to remind me to extend grace to myself too.
I finally decided sometime in the fall that this year I wasn’t going to do this to my family. They shouldn’t have to live through another year of me being depressed before the birthday even comes. I shouldn’t either. I decided to take the bull by the horns this year. Then, I read it. Over at Dancing on the Dash Loretta shared about her amazing celebration and I said in my heart, “YES!” Here’s what I want to do. I want to gather women I love. I don’t want to gather them just to celebrate me and I sure don’t want them thinking they have to give me gifts because God already gave me gift after gift after gift (life, redemption, blessings, and these sweet friends). I just want to do something meaningful for others and do it with women I love.
So these women are coming over this coming Saturday and we are having a Sole Hope party. We are going to cut fabric and materials so that shoes can be made for children who have no shoes in Africa. These kids get jiggers and other foot borne diseases and they suffer. Shoes help prevent all that. And, even better, the shoes will be assembled by African women getting paid a fair wage — so they can help support their families. THIS. This is what I want to do with my birthday. This is what I want to do with my LIFE. I want to gather women I love around me and I want to serve Jesus and others together. So, I’m starting a new birthday tradition.
You know what? I’m not grumpy and my birthday is here! I haven’t been in a funk at all. I’ve been at peace. God is the redeemer. He doesn’t waste one single thing and He had in mind to redeem even this — my birthday — and to use it for good to bless me and the women who come gather with me — and then to bless others through us. As always, when we are willing to risk stretching out a withered hand, He is willing to heal what was lame. He is healing my birthday. He is making it useful.
Last year I wrote this poem after my birthday, when other women around me seemed so upset about aging and I wanted to help them see the beauty in what we become:
I want laugh lines …. Lots of them
I want lines on my face that tell the journey of my life …
Lines that say, “I’ve been somewhere, been someone who cared, who hurt, who cried, who lost, who gained, who loved and who laughed.”
I want lines on my face that show my age.
I want to be the age that says, “I’ve been around the block, and boy could I tell you a story or two.”
I want lines that say I know more than I forgot and I have wisdom to share if you want to listen.
I want those lines that curl from the edges of my eyes and say, “Come here, little child, my lap is roomy and my heart is soft from all I’ve seen and done.”
I want lines around my mouth. Familiar lines that say, “I’m a good one to tell a joke to. I’ll laugh and think you’re clever.”
I want the lines that women work hard to erase.
I don’t want to stitch them away or cover them up.
I want to wear them as my badge: My badge of living and loving well.
I encourage you, if you would, to pray about your birthday this year. Step out and do something a little risky. If you will, gather some friends. It doesn’t have to be for a service project. It could be for a movie night in your PJs or a meeting at a coffee place or a trip somewhere. Maybe you need some time of reflection and you just never get up the nerve to plan the time alone to reflect and be still. Whatever it is, I pray you will take a step to add meaning to your birthday in ways you haven’t in previous years. Don’t be afraid to celebrate this amazing life we have been given and most of all to celebrate the Giver.
I love hearing from you … tell me what you are doing for your birthday this year … or tell me what your birthday is like for you … If you do something risky or wonderful, please go to my Facebook page and share about it.