Today is my birthday. I’m now 40 years old. Big milestone.
Normally, my birthday is a big deal to me. I never want a party (I’m just not a party girl), but I always feel that my birthday should be properly acknowledged by my friends and family with thoughtful (notice I didn’t say expensive) gifts or cards, or with a lunch or dinner date. This is because one of my love languages is receiving gifts and the other is acts of service. Only 1 important person in my life is allowed to let my birthday pass without acknowledgement and she and I know why that is.
This matter of the unacknowledged birthday has been somewhat of a personal struggle for me. On the one hand, my nuclear family doesn’t make a big deal about anything – my first birthday party ever in life was about 7 years ago, and my 39th birthday passed without so much as a card. I have accepted that this is how things are because everybody doesn’t express themselves the way I do or the way I would want them to, so my expectations have changed. On the other hand, I think that if someone loves me, they should know me well enough to know that they need to make a to-do about my birthday with no prompting from me. I absolutely do not prompt or remind anyone about my birthday.
Taking all this into consideration, you would think that for my fortieth I would be kicked back, waiting for the love to flow my way. Not so this go around.
Yes, the well wishes came in more abundance that I expected, which truly made my day – early birthday wishes from a couple of friends last evening, starting my day with a FaceTime call from my aunt (1 of my most favourite people in the world ever!) and cousin, the video from my sister of the Minions singing ‘happy birthday’, and the Whatsapp wishes from my wonderful friends. In between all that, I worked and went for dinner with my colleagues, who surprised me with a lovely cake. Now the day is about to end with a Skype call from my parents.
Truthfully, I wasn’t overly excited or anticipatory or even sad about this milestone birthday. The day ended up being much more than I expected, with my family and friends coming through with the love and my colleagues being so thoughtful. Otherwise, it would have been just another day and, unusually, that would have been fine with me.
This is for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, my Kilimanjaro trek was my birthday present to myself that turned into God’s birthday present to me, so I feel like I already had my milestone high. In fact, it was kind of a life high for me. I mean, what more could I ask for when I’ve already had that awesome experience? Everything else is gravy.
Secondly, my brain had already adjusted itself to this birthday being low-key because I knew I would be in an environment where I don’t know anyone well enough for them to make a big deal about it. (I admit that I underestimated their generosity.)
Lastly, I have mixed feelings about getting to this milestone age. I used to be a people pleaser; this means that I spent my twenties trying to get people in general to like me and my thirties trying to get 1 man in particular to love me. I feel like I wasted 2 decades of my emotional life and I want a do-over. Luckily for me, God is in the business of giving beauty for ashes so I also feel hopeful. In fact, I’m really interested to see what God has in store for this new decade of my life. I expect it to be mind-blowing because I’ve noticed in the last 2 years that God has a way of springing really great surprises on me. In all honesty, my expectations are super high.
So, what it boils down to is this: I’m not excited about turning 40; in fact, I don’t really care that I’m 40 now. But I’m super excited about what God has up His sleeve for my next 10 years. Yes, that sounds about right.
Happy birthday to me!