I love birthdays! I love making a big deal over people on their birthdays. They deserve to be celebrated. I think they beg for recognition, but I know not everyone shares my exuberance, especially as the years pile up. When I was working in Providence, Rhode Island, I received an email calling me “selfish” and “arrogant” and “childish” for mentioning my birthday on the radio. Actually, it doesn’t matter to me if anyone outside my family remembers my birthday; I will still celebrate every April 7th. I even pamper myself with a few gifts (in 2012, a dog and a plane ticket). Surviving another year on this planet is nothing short of a miracle.
When we’re kids, birthdays equal attention, parties, cake, and presents. While I still enjoy all of those things (especially cake), they’re no longer necessary for a proper celebration. On my birthday last weekend, I saw no one except a few colleagues at work and the woman who handed me my special take-out dinner. Ha! It was a quiet birthday, probably the most low-key birthday I’ve ever had. Phone calls, text messages, Facebook & twitter greetings galore, but no fanfare; and I wouldn’t change a thing. This birthday was special in other ways: a symbolic slam of a door behind me and a giant step toward the future.
For many reasons I don’t care to revisit, 2011 was the most challeging and difficult year of my adult life. Personally, professionally, emotionally, and spiritually; no part of my world was untouched or unquestioned. My birthday was an opportunity to pause, turn around, and appreciate how far I’ve come in the first few months of 2012. It’s the last time I’ll ever look back; that part of my life is now dead and gone. I’m thankful for the valuable lessons learned; but honestly, I’m more thankful to have last year in my rearview mirror. That’s worth celebrating!
Life is hard. Sometimes I wonder how we survive and advance. It can feel like navigating a minefield. Natural disasters, health crises, death of loved ones, mounting financial pressures, job stresses, family conflicts, personal failures – we all go through them. To face those challenges head-on and emerge with your blood pressure stable and sanity intact is no small feat. To cling to hope in the face of despair and believe despite all odds requires supreme effort. But to know God lends His strength and company in the midst of darkness is invaluable. And to finally reach the bright light at the end of the tunnel is priceless. That’s worth celebrating!
To get wiser as we get older is both a blessing and a curse. When friends joke about how “old” I am, I immediately point out I wouldn’t go back to my 20s for all the money in the world. Boy, was I stupid! Ha! I caused myself (and others) a lot of extra stress and heartache with my poor decisions. Understanding the magnitude of those choices and living with regret is the curse that comes with age. But there’s greater blessing in the knowledge I never have to repeat those mistakes — in the knowledge that every new day and every new year is a chance to get it right. That’s also worth celebrating!
Despite marking my birthday with very little pomp and circumstance, I couldn’t ask for more than the peace in my heart, excitement and anticipation for the future, and another year to develop into the woman God’s called me to be. Happy Birthday indeed!