Today is my birthday.
Which is great because it means everyone is required to stop and think of me before doing anything else today.
Want that last Boston creme donut behind the counter? Tough luck. It’s my birthday. I’ve earned it.
Think that parking spot near the front of the store is yours today? Think again. It’s my birthday.
Thought you’d get to the movie theater early and snag the middle seat halfway up? Sorry, you’re just reserving that for me. You’ll need to move. It’s my birthday.
Going to the grocery store next to my house this afternoon? Before you check out, stop and think “Will this cause Zack a delay in leaving the store in a prompt manner?”
Planning on changing lanes while you drive near me today? Make sure you first stop and think “Is there a chance I will cut Zack off and unnecessarily delay his forward progress?”
At least this is what I’ve come to understand the meaning of birthdays to be, especially for the 35 and under crowd, which I’m a part of….for at least a few more years.
Of course, it’s not just my birthday anymore. As the students in my youth group remind me it’s also my “birthday week” and even my “birthday month”. During which time, everyone is required to conform to the birthday celebrant’s every whim.
After all, I/they have earned it simply by being born.
You know the more I think about it, the more I realize birthdays are really irrelevant. Based on what I see on TV, read on the internet, or just experience in “real life”, most of us live as if everyday is our birthday.
Everyday is about “me.” The very fact that I was born makes “me” important. “Your” thoughts and actions should always conform to what “I” want or at least what “I” think is acceptable. What’s more, “you” better not think of doing anything that might inconvenience “me” in any way, whether real or perceived. There was a time when that sort of behavior might have been tolerated, but this is the age of “me”!
After all, science has clearly demonstrated that the world revolves around “me”. Any disruption to that cosmic cycle will bring the world crashing down.
Maybe it’s just me, but I never ceased to be amazed at the growing sense of self-importance that permeates every corner of life these days. It’s really not that shocking though, if you really think about it. If you were born in the last few decades you’ve probably been told since birth how important and special you are. When you here that all the time it becomes the gospel.
I wonder if that has anything to do with our increasing inability to find common ground on issues, or at least live peaceably together. If “I” am really that special and important and somebody doesn’t agree with “me”, then maybe “I” am not as perfect as I thought I was. But that can’t be true. “They” must just be evil. (So goes the logic)
Maybe that’s not an issue, but it seems that way sometimes.
Now, I don’t think we should do away with birthdays or celebrating personal accomplishments, but we could all do with a good does of humility, not least of this guy. Simply put, we really need to do away with the cult of “me”. We all have gifts and talents, but most of us really aren’t that awesome……and that’s ok.
Yes, we’re all made in the image of God and that really is wonderful. But it’s wonderful that God made us; it’s not wonderful just because we exist. What’s worth celebrating is the fact that He chose to be in relationship with us, working through and with us to redeem all of creation. That’s pretty awesome and it has nothing to do with “me”.
Besides, if we were all that special, then we’d all really be the same, there would be no such thing as “special” and the world would be a pretty mediocre place to live in.
Here’s the thing….I genuinely appreciate all the birthday wishes I have received today. I really, really do. And I don’t take issue with celebrating birthdays. Especially when that celebration includes a coupon for a free meal at Texas de Brazil.
But this day that is “supposed” to be all about “me” has been a reminder for me that life really isn’t about me at all. It’s about the God that created me. Clearly, he did a pretty awesome job with that (kidding), but I am here because of Him, not my own accomplishment.
So, if I have a birthday wish this year it’s that I hope I can remember what, or Who, life is really about and live everyday this year as if my life isn’t just about “me.”
That would be something really worth celebrating.
Grace and peace,