Christmas is one of my favorite times of year. I get excited to get out my tree put up the lights and dream about all the fun parties and concerts this time of year.
I love an excuse to have a party, in fact, when I enter the pearly gates I could only dream that perhaps that will be one of my jobs for eternity... to be the party planner of heaven.
Now what kind of awesome gig would that be?!
But there is one party that I got anxious over, sometimes very upset about and just trouble in general figuring out how to deal with... It comes the same time every year exactly one week into the New Year.
It's my Birthday.
I've tried to analyze it though the years. I've wondered why I dread it.
Most years it's just another birthday and I'm not all that bothered about saying I'm another year older. I'm just happy to be alive.
But there was always something I couldn't put my finger on that nagged at my belly as my day of birth approached. I'd hold my breath and try to ignore the 24 hours in which I had to endure this day.
It was weird. I thought maybe I need professional help. Which, let's face it, I probably do.
And then one year it hit me.
It's because I like to plan the party.
I plan everyone's party in our home. I make the cake. And serve their favorite food. I listen throughout the year to Make sure they have the gift(or cash) they wanted on that special day. And then around the table, early in the morning, with eyes half open we always give the gift of encouragement, telling the birthday boy or girl what quality we really like about them. Sometimes there are tears and often laughter as we pour praise over the person in the special chair of honor.
But on my birthday I had never given myself permission to plan the party.
So, because of my strong belief that on their birthday everyone should have their cake and eat it too, I started buying myself my favorite cake. Usually that's Red Velvet. Sometimes Cheesecake. And I've even already bought a DQ ice cream cake. :)
But really it's not about the cake, it was about a deeper need I have to serve.
And often When it comes to a birthday there is all this pressure to "Be Served".
People ask "Did you do anything special for your birthday"?
And usually as adults we do really Amazing things on our birthdays like... go to work.
Or change the diapers, just like every other day.
And sometimes we may begin to wonder.... Why Don't I get a celebration?
Perhaps we are tempted to believe our life doesn't matter or that our people don't really care that we made it another year!
But when I started asking myself what would fulfill me most I instantly knew the answer.
Shopping? A day of pampering? People throwing me a huge party?
I love those things. I really do. But I have been there done that and I can't say that it brought me lasting and deep satisfaction.
No, I knew that on my birthday I would intentionally plan my own party by doing this one thing.
Now, sometimes I can be a late bloomer so maybe this is the secret that others knew all along but for me it was like the lights came on and I started making my party plan. I decided that On my day of birth I will celebrate by serving. This would make me look forward to this day instead of dread it.
Because honestly The joy I get when I do for someone else no amount of self indulgent spending can match.
Heaven came down as a baby to serve. His birth, his life, his death.
He washed feet, and reached out for the lowest and least of mankind to demonstrate the greatest of love.
That's what I celebrate at Christmas time.
A king who bent low to serve the very ones he had created.
What an example he left for us.
Celebrations have their place.
But expecting to Be Served will most often lead to disappointment.
So when people ask me what I did for my birthday now I tell them it was a great day.
But it's not because of big ticket gifts, parties with balloons or dream vacations.
It is intentionally using the life and breath we have been given to celebrate life by pouring into another person.
One more year on this earth we've been given.
And celebrating that the best gift of all was one who came and served so we can live forever even after we leave this shell we call home.
It truly is a wonderful life.
"For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many". Mark 10:45