The day before my birthday I decide to finally do it – finally start a blog about fighting for joy, and the next day I really get a chance to practice. I guess it’s kind of like that cliché about praying for patience.
Have I ever had a birthday when I wasn’t a little disappointed?
Can I admit to the world that secretly I really want a really special birthday? Not every year, of course, but a few?
Well, this year was not going to be that year – and my expectations weren’t very high, but I still had that secret little girl hope that my realistic pragmatic self would be surprised somehow.
They weren’t. And yet they were.
When I woke to a -37C windchill, squabbling children and a husband rushing out the door, forgetting to even say Happy Birthday, and knowing he’d be gone until at least 9PM – I knew this would be a real fight. Is it possible to have a happy birthday when it starts like this?
I trudged downstairs, started toast for the kids, made a very large cup of tea – basically started my day the same way I start every day. The kids sang me happy birthday, and my mood lifted a bit – how could I refuse their gift to me by remaining grumpy?
The baby went down for a nap and we made cinnamon buns – the quick ones from the cookbook I got for my birthday last year. While those were baking I kneaded a big batch of sourdough bread – it took 20 minutes. 20 minutes of tactile pleasure, time to enjoy the simple satisfaction of working hard to provide something nourishing and healthy for my family. 20 minutes to pray, just enough time to take some of my disappointment to Jesus and to be reminded of how blessed I am.
We brewed a big pot of rooibos tea. We enjoyed our hot out of the oven cinnamon buns. The kids sang me happy birthday again, and gave me sweet birthday kisses. Instead of slogging through our regular curriculum, we read together, curled up warm under blankets and started reading “Little Lord Fauntleroy”
I still secretly hoped that my husband would come early, that he would bring me flowers, or at least call or something. There were other calls I was hoping for, too… was I going to wallow in bitter disappointment? Again and again I took my on the verge of unhappy heart to the One who cares.
I prayed through Psalm 16 (more on that another day)
And the Lover of my soul proved so faithful. Who loves better than the One who made me? Who celebrates with me more than the Savior who died for (whiny, petty, selfish) me?
Carl called at 4:00 to say Happy Birthday. I knew I could be gracious – after all he was just caught up in everything that day was going to hold when he left – and haven’t I done the same, time and again? I put my own concerns above those of the ones around me – especially my precious husband and children. Even that very morning, I cared more about celebrating myself than about all that he was heading into – that -37C windchill, a long drive to the city and endless meetings. (Thank you for mercy, Lord)
Mac and cheese for dinner, and a freezer burned carrot cake I baked at least 9 months ago. The kids insisted that I light a candle and they sang me Happy Birthday, yet again, and this time I stared at them in wonder – how did I get to have all this, all these blessings beyond measure?
Thank you Jesus for my quiet, low key, beautiful, happy birthday, and for eyes to see the gift you were giving me.