I want to start out this writing by saying that it is not meant to cause anyone to feel any particular feeling. It has not been put to paper to force any sort of reaction and I have not posted it to my blog to gain any sort of feedback or response. No… I am writing this for my own purposes, for my own mental health… and perhaps to just help me reconcile my perception with reality and recognize my unrealistic expectations of others.
To say we humans are selfish is an understatement. We were born that way. We have an intrinsic nature that makes us naturally concerned with numbero uno… me, myself, and I… the big kahuna… the center of the universe… me, me, me… ME!!!!
Even those of us who work diligently at helping others, attempting to step outside of ourselves and trying to be a good example of Christ… still have an ego to contend with. I bet even Mother Theresa had moments where she felt like, “can’t it just be about me for once?”
Because of my own selfishness through the years, I have come to really dislike my birthday. I suppose I have always had unrealistic expectations of others around me to think they would find this one day of the year, July 1st, to be something special. After all, it is just one day of 365 of them. Why would July 1st be treated any differently than the rest of them? But for some reason, my birthday has always brought about hopes that it would be nice to special, at least for the day.
What’s really funny is my birthday really shouldn’t be about me at all. It should be about my mother. I mean she’s the one who did all the hard work… she’s the one who suffered pain to give me life… why shouldn’t my birthday be a celebration of her sacrifice? After all, what did I do on July 1, 1972… nothing really. God had created me and He knew me long before that moment in time. Yes, my mother deserves the special treatment on July 1st… but society’s selfishness rears its ugly head again… and makes the birthday about me, me, me.
Keeping in mind that selfishness is the biggest disease of our humanness… it only makes sense that the people around us… strangers, acquaintances, friends and family alike are much more vested in their own existence than in anyone else's. And it is for this reason, the birthday of importance in their lives is most definitely their own, and not anyone else's. To take part in the celebration of another's birthday is a beautiful thing… but it takes intentionality and care.
I mean, the first thing you need to do is actually come into the knowledge of when a person’s birthday is. That information doesn’t normally just fall into your lap; although there are some people who walk around announcing their birth date to everyone they meet. But even after that, it takes mental acuity (or a pen and a calendar) to set that date aside as a day to, at the very least, say “Happy Birthday” to someone. Beyond that there are different levels of celebratory gifting. A greeting, a card, a gift, a party… a surprise party, a trip… and it can go on. I know people who actually celebrate their birthdays for an entire week. Geez!
It is no surprise that the ones closest to us are the ones who take more care and interest in remembering our birthdays. After all, they care for us, they are part of our lives, they are around us, they don’t want us to be disappointed or sad… and certainly don’t want to get on our bad side because we all know that can be trouble.
This year, July 1, 2010, I had a lovely birthday. It was very quiet and low key. I spent the day with my son. Opened some presents when my hubby got home. Went out to dinner and got my favorite meal. We had a really great time as a family and I have to say – it was one of my best birthday’s ever just because my happiness in those moments with my son and husband were so genuine and real.
My parents sent me some very special, well thought-out gifts and I felt very loved. I suppose I should mention that my love language is “Gifts” so give me a gift… and boy do I feel special!!! My mother and father in-law also sent me a few things in the mail that were also special. Hubby did great with his gifts to me (nothing that plugs in – yay). I got a few phone calls, one from my sister and one from my brother. I spoke with my sister-in-law, Marissa, and one other friend. I got about 20 facebook Happy Birthdays on my wall, which was nice… but I know how that works. When it’s someone’s birthday it shows up on your page and its one of the easiest things in the world to just click on the reminder, get to their page and type “H-A-P-P-Y_B-I-R-T-H-D-A-Y” on their wall. It’s nice… but let’s face it, probably mostly coincidence and surely in most cases, not very intentional. I did however make sure I sent back a personal note to every single person who wished my H.B. on my wall because whether they realized it or not, I reallyappreciated the time it took to do what they did.
But something happened after my birthday passed. Remember I said it was a good one… simple but very meaningful... my Husband, my son, parents (regular and in-law) succeeded in making me feel very special! But even with that, the devil began chatting in my ear. He knows this is one of those sore spots for me and it was a GREAT opportunity for him to dig at me. I have a handful of what I would consider really good friends… not one of them even called me. Not one of them sent me a card… of course no gift… and out of the handful… only 3 wished me happy birthday on my facebook page. Hmmmm…. I thought a little further… I didn’t get one birthday card in the mail this year. And… 3 of the people who are very involved in my life… who I know are aware of my birthday… didn’t acknowledge it at all. I recalled 365 days earlier… my first surprise birthday dinner ever thanks to my husband, but with that recollection I also was faced with realizing the person who helped plan that surprise dinner, didn’t say word one to me this year about my birthday. Granted a lot has changed in that 365 days.
I know this is selfish! I know it… I know I am whining… but this has been wearing at me. These thoughts… these selfish thoughts about what I didn’t get have been stealing the joy of what I did get. This intrinsic selfishness that drives unrealistic expectation of others who they themselves are just as selfish as I am… has dampened my mood and I again have this feeling of not liking my birthday… at all. I suppose I have the devil to thank for all of that… I have myself to thank for listening to his nonsense. But is it all nonsense? Is there this appropriate reality check that needs to happen regarding my boundaries that says... if someone doesn’t know me well enough to know how I feel about this... if someone doesn’t care enough about me to even attempt to remember... perhaps we aren’t as close as I thought we were? Is that the devil? Or is that real? I don't know.
I know life happens, and everyone has stuff going on I am not aware of… and I even have to admit I have forgotten birthdays of great importance to me – and I have felt AWFUL about it because this is something that is obviously near and dear to my heart. I am fully aware that my selfishness is of less importance to others than their own selfishness. I just wish this whole birthday thing didn’t make me feel so… conflicted. I suppose I’m the only one who has control over that. I suppose the only way out is to give those feelings to Jesus and ask Him to bear the burden of it for me.
Ah ha... God just told me of something. It doesn’t matter who does and doesn’t help make me feel special on July 1st, or any other day of the year for that matter. Because guess what... in God’s eyes... I’m special EVERY SINGLE DAY... not just on July 1st. The creator of the universe desires to make me feel special ALL THE TIME but I, selfish me, stand in the way of that by letting the devil, society and unrealistic expectations of others sour my view, by focusing on what I didn't get rather than what I did get. I NEED to be fully satisfied with God' love for me... He didn't give me perfection but He did give me eternal life through Jesus, a gift to be truly thankful for. With that I will stop my whining and try to move on being less selfish.