When I saw that my monthly article was assigned to this particular date, I perked up. We all have dates that set off little alarms in us, and this is one of mine.
I almost wrote to Elizabeth Trotter and asked to swap with another writer. But then I thought, “What better time to talk about birthdays than on my actual birthday!”
Maybe your family didn’t celebrate or make a big deal out of birthdays. Or perhaps they were a VERY. BIG. DEAL. and the world basically stopped for a day. I know some people who celebrate a birthday week or a birthday month; from the family culture I was raised in, that seems a bit much. Which makes my point that we are first and foremost formed by the families who raised us.
Maybe you had a picture in your mind as a young person what 25 would look like. Where’d you’d be at 30. What your life would look like at 40. How your relationship with your children or grandchildren would look when you were 60. And your life looks nothing like what you imagined or much richer than anything you could picture.
I remember conversations with my sisters when we were teens and the thought of the three of us being 40 seemed so utterly ridiculous. It seemed so OLD. So very far away. So close to death. And now? Now it seems young :). Perspective, my friends, perspective.
When I moved to China I learned that decade birthdays (30, 40, 60) are significant and if you hit 80? That was to be CELEBRATED. I also learned about “your year.” If you’ve eaten at a Chinese restaurant with a placemat that has 12 animals and dates under them tied to the year you were born, that’s what I’m talking about. So, every 12 years is “your year.” I’m curious what are key birthdays in the land that you live?
A few birthdays stand out from the field. My first year my teammate invited three of our students to go out for pizza at a quaint cafe that was such a weird hybrid it stood alone and defied classifying. (Was it western? No. Was it Chinese? No. Was it like anywhere that you might recognize? Not really. :)) We five then biked to a sort-of-illegal movie theater and watched a western movie. I knew then that though though I was surrounded by people who hadn’t known me long, they would still find ways to mark my birthday.
When I turned 30 I had a weird sensation of “I am an adult. Like a real-real-real adult. Is this my life path?”
Then there was the year another teammate and I were in the middle of building renovation and we were the only people not to be relocated. (Why?! Why?) My birthday fell in the midst of four months without hot water but with the added bonus of nonstop construction noise from eight in the morning until eight at night.
Having a birthday between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, it’s typical I receive well wishes, but people are partied out. I understand. Honestly, many years I’m partied out too. But for my 40th birthday I insisted on a party and decided I wanted it to be a murder mystery. I had joyfully attended many a bridal and baby shower and anniversary party and decided that for one time I was going to inconvenience everyone and ask that on my birthday we gather and have fun. And friends, it was magical. They rose to the occasion and though I had to work that day and was stuck in rush hour Beijing traffic on my way home, it was all I had hoped. We laughed, we ate, we solved a mystery, and we rejoiced in the life that God has given me.
So when I say, “Let’s talk about birthdays!” what comes to mind for you? What birthdays on the field stand out to you? I will be away from my computer today, so tomorrow I look forward to reading all of your stories. You are wonderfully and fearfully made and God loves you.
Thanks for being here,
P.S. Sometimes when a year is all jumbled together inside of your head, heart, and soul, whatever is on the top of the pile is all that we can see. Sorting—aka reflecting and preparing—can help you to see gems or heartaches that you might miss because they are buried at the bottom. Get your Reflect on 2022 & Prepare for 2023 packet today and start reaping the benefits of reflecting! Available at Global Trellis.
Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash