Skip to main content

letting God pick

Yesterday was my birthday. A lot of the birthdays in my life have been rather disappointing affairs, I have to admit. Nobody's fault, really. Being born in the middle of the crazy busy harvest season on a farm meant that there was usually very little time to make a special occasion of it. I got used to no big deal being made out of the day I was born. I remember coming home from school one day and seeing a brown paper bag on the table, a gift for me, but no one around to share the celebration; they were all working on the field. I also remember one year my mom promising to get me those shoes I really wanted, but I would have to wait a week or two. It was just the way it was for many years.

Unfortunately, these small details left a big impact on my sensitive soul. I became super sensitive to being overlooked and forgotten. I craved affirmation that I was special and important, especially on that one day. And I heaped such high expectations on my husband and my friends to make a memorable birthday experience, that most times I was left slightly disappointed. I didn't tell anyone that, of course, but that's the sad truth.

This year, I decided it would be different. The past few months I have had to take a good, hard look at some of my most deep-seated areas of insatiable neediness, and by God's grace, I believe I have put them to rest. This birthday would let me know if things had indeed changed. I decided to take the pressure off Dean and plan my own birthday party. It was a fabulous idea, too. It would be a reverse surprise birthday party, where all the guests would show up and not know what was happening. And then I realised that I was just trying to make sure that something cool happened, that my need to feel special on that day was being met, and I said, "Okay, God, I take my hands off the whole thing."

I woke up yesterday morning and lay in bed, talking to God, as I usually do. I thanked him for the day and decided that I would not ask for anything specific for my birthday. No requests for special times with friends, no pleas for people to read my mind and get me the perfect gift, none of that. I said, "God, whatever you have for me today, I receive it. I will be grateful and content with whatever happens, no expectations and fantasies to fulfill. This is a good day because you gave it to me and that's enough. If I get together with people, great. If I end up at home alone watching a movie, wonderful. Whatever you want to give me today is good. You pick. I trust you with my birthday."

I received numerous happy birthday messages from friends and thought, "Awww, that's so nice." I did my workout and read my Bible and ironed some clothes and then got down to some homework. Two friends texted me to see if I would like to have coffee with them, one before my evening class and one after. I said yes. Dean told me he had a dinner with some people, so we would do something another night. I was content with it all. In fact, I felt like I had balloons of gratitude swelling inside my chest. Having finally let go of my expectations for an extraordinary day, every little thing felt like a gift.

I had a most wondrous drink (green tea with honey) with my friend before class. I told her of my unusual contentment and we laughed and smiled and enjoyed a half hour of mutual affection. I had an interesting class on the relevance of miracles and then met my other friend after that. We went to his place and when I walked into the kitchen, a whole herd of my friends yelled "Surprise," threw balloons at me, sprayed me with water pistols, and cheered. Dean was there, too (this being the 'dinner' he had), and we ate watermelon, popcorn, chips, and margherita pizza (all my favourite things). It was a loud and friendly evening, filled with laughter and games and synergy. I received more gifts and kind words and heard the silly stories of how the party evolved.

When the adrenaline and excitement finally wore off at 1:30 am, I lay in bed and marvelled at what a wondrous life I have and what a stellar day it had been, especially because I let God pick instead of telling him what I wanted and needed. He knows that better than I do, and he will never disappoint.
Thank you to all my friends in Montreal for the best birthday ever! And thank you to my family for faithfully loving me all these years, every day, and not just on my birthday. Contentment and gratitude are two gifts I never thought to ask for, but they came anyway.

This is me on a street corner in Bath, UK. Dean gets the credit for the photo. May I stand under the sign of surrender every day of my life.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

the songs we sing

NOTE: I am going to make some pretty strong statements below, but understand that it is my way of taking an honest, hard look at my own worship experience and practice. My desire is not to be overly critical, but to open up dialogue by questioning things I have assumed were totally fine and appropriate. In other words, I am preaching to myself. Feel free to listen in.

---------------------

When I am in a church meeting during the singing time, I sometimes find myself silent, unable to get the words past my lips. At times I just need a moment of stillness, time to listen, but other times, the words make me pause because I don't know that I can sing them honestly or with integrity. This is a good thing. We should never mindlessly or heartlessly sing songs just because everyone else is. We should care deeply about what we say in our sung, communal worship.

At their best, songs sung by the gathered body of Christ call to life what is already in us: the hope, the truth, the longing, t…

comedic timing

One of my favourite jokes goes like this:
Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Interrupting cow
Interrupting cow w---
Moooooooo!!

Timing is important in both drama and comedy. A well-paced story draws the audience in and helps it invest in the characters, while a tale too hastily told or too long drawn out will fail to engage anyone. Surprise - something which interrupts the expected - is a creative use of timing and integral to any good story. If someone is reading a novel and everything unfolds in a predictable manner, they will probably wonder why they bothered reading the book. And so it is in life. Having life be predictable all of the time is not as calming as it sounds. We love surprises, especially good surprises like birthday parties, gifts, marriage proposals, and finding something that we thought was lost. Surprises are an important part of humour. A good joke is funny because it goes to a place you didn't expect it to go. Similarly, comedic timing allows something unexpected …

singing lessons

When I was a young child, a visiting preacher came to our country church. He brought his two daughters with him, and before he gave his sermon, they sang beautiful duets about Jesus. They had lovely voices which blended well. The preacher, meaning to impress on us their God-given musical talent, mentioned that the girls had never had any singing lessons. The congregation nodded and ooohhed in appreciation. I was puzzled. I didn't understand how not learning was a point of grace or even pride. After all, people who have natural abilities in sports, math, writing, art, or science find it extremely helpful to study under teachers who can aid them in their development and introduce them to things outside their own experience. Being self-taught (though sometimes the only option available to those with limited resources) is not a cause for pride or celebration. Why? Because that's just not how the communal, relational Creator set things up.

I have been singing since I was a child. …