Happy Birthday to Us

It’s just a day like any other. Nothing out of the ordinary – my special day, my birthday. Unlike most people, I prefer to keep my birthday as low-key as possible without drawing too much attention to myself. (I had an entire childhood perfecting that move.)  I really don’t like my birthday, although deep down, like most people, I’m secretly hoping for maybe a tiny bit of fanfare. Perhaps a bit of unexpected recognition that for a brief moment in time makes me feel unique – like I really matter to the universe.

My low-key birthday attitude is yet another holdover from a difficult, somewhat challenging childhood. I don’t remember much about the birthdays prior to my sixth year. It’s likely those early formative birthday years were fraught with tension, screaming and crying since my parent’s marriage was something akin to a war zone. It was here on this war zone proving ground that I honed my superhero powers of invisibility. Being the invisible child came in quite handy back then, but invisibility was tough to turn on and off — even on birthdays.

After my parents divorce when I was six, my mother raised me and my siblings primarily on her own, oftentimes forced to work two jobs. Dad was a monthly check and weekend visits packed with a week’s worth of discipline that he was certain was no longer being administered by our single-mother.

God bless my mother for her valiant efforts, but truthfully – we were pretty poor during the years that followed. Birthdays never amounted to much simply for a lack of funds and lack of energy on my mother’ part. The lady was simply overworked and tired all the time. I never had a “kid party” growing up and my hardworking mother was lucky if she could scrape together a couple of “extra” dollars for a single gift and a box of cake mix. Because my birthday is in August there weren’t even any birthday acknowledgements from school friends or teachers since my birthday didn’t fall within the parameters of the school calendar. If only I’d been born in early October when I was scheduled to appear! Maybe then things would have been different.

It wasn’t until my 30th birthday that I had my first happy and memorable birthday, but even now at nearly twice that age, the low-key, below-average birthdays far outweigh the great over-the-top birthdays. For whatever reason, bad stuff always seems to fall on or near my birthday. Not bad stuff with me, but to the people living with or around me. It’s sort of something I’ve come to expect – almost like a birthday curse.

It’s because of these birthday curses, I find myself questioning my place in the world and my contribution to the universe? I sometimes wonder if I really matter to anyone? If a girl can’t even have one whole day devoted to celebrating her — then there must be something wrong with her, right? I know … it’s probably just me and the emotional scars that refuse to heal.

Why is it the scars we’ve had the longest, cut the deepest and cause us the most long-lasting pain?

Even after all these years I still can’t seem to let myself enjoy my birthday which is kind of sad, since the Word of God tells me that God “… watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born.”

While my parents may not have been over the moon about my arrival and likely may have even resented the fact that they had to worry about my birthday every year – my Heavenly Father was excited by my arrival and rejoices on my birthday. My Heavenly Father never stops thinking about me! How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! (Psalm 139:17-18)

Yes, I’m a little extra sensitive and maudlin on my birthday, but likely that’s due to the fact that I miss my mother terribly. She was the one person I could count on for a birthday greeting. I knew in spite of our on again/off again relationship, I could count on her every year for a birthday card and a phone call. It’s been 13 birthdays since I last had a birthday phone call from my Mom and goodness … but I miss her.

If you are at all like me and find yourself questioning your place in the universe on your birthday – or any other time – I hope like me, you can find comfort in Psalm 139. These 24 verses have a way of reinforcing our existence and importance to God regardless of the circumstances surrounding our parentage, our birth and our place in the world.

Never forget … YOU matter to God and He celebrates you everyday whether it’s your birthday or not!

You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
(Psalm 139:16)

Blessings in Christ and as always happy reading!
Kathy K.

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