Lessons From a Birthdate
Recently, I turned 41.
The most obvious thing for most people to reflect on would be how rotten of a time the first year of their 40’s was, and how poorly 2020 bodes for the rest of this next decade of their life. But mine is not just any date in 2020 or any of the preceding years. I was born on Christmas Eve.
Throughout the course of my life, I’ve run into a select few who share this distinction. To a man, we all note the same trends: a lack of parties, “joint” Christmas/ Birthday presents, and a general lack of attention paid to our special day. My childhood was largely devoid of the intricate productions that my wife puts on for my own children each year. There were no large gatherings, piles of presents or many of the other things so characteristic of the events I now realize are typical for birthday parties. My parents did the best they could. We’d often hold a gathering on the first weekend of December, but even these were sparsely attended, low profile affairs. As an adult now, I completely understand. Who could expect anyone to remember (or even be concerned about) a single birthday in the midst of a Christmas season? Now that I have my own holiday parties, work luncheons, and gift-buying responsibilities I see that such an arrangement is simply inevitable. I’m okay with it.
But more than that I appreciate the life lesson, the wonderful analogy, that I was made privy to my whole life. My birthday, my recognition, were always being overshadowed by this time of year in which we celebrate the birth of our savior. Because of the acclaim being showered on him during the holiday season, there was little left for me. And that’s exactly how it should be.
At what is likely the halfway point of my life, I still have more questions than answers. I’m far from having it all figured out. But the one thing I’m sure of is this: It’s not about me.
Growing up, I had a very specific set of hopes and dreams. Some of those have been achieved and some have not. But the most surprising thing has been just how much God uses these unfulfilled dreams to the advantage of me and those around me. There are so many things I haven’t got to do or achieve… and I’ve been better for it. I can see now, with the benefit of hindsight, that so many things I wanted weren’t truly in my best interest. Moreover, they weren’t in the best interest of everyone else. It’s clear to that the Almighty has a plan, and it isn’t always the same as mine. It is, however, always better. My little mind can’t begin to comprehend the things he has planned or the proverbial dominoes that need to fall in order to bring that plan into fruition. When I’m playing checkers, he’s playing ten games of chess at the same time. When I’ve been willing to trust him, life has been better. When I’ve been content to be in his shadow, I’ve been most able to appreciate the things going on around me.
That’s the great thing about being born on Christmas Eve. When everyone is focusing on the Savior’s special day, they have little time left to make much ado over me. A birthday that let a young boy learn that it’s supposed to be about Him (and not me) was the greatest gift one could ever receive.