Wisdom of Kammbia 1.8: Importance of Birthdays

My frame was not hidden from you,

when I was being made in secret,

intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;

in your book were written, every one of them,

the days that were formed for me,

when as yet there was none of them.

(Psalm 139:15-16  ESV Bible)

As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.

(Ecclesiastes 11:5  ESV Bible)

I have a birthday this week on Tuesday the 31st and I will turn 39 years old. As a matter of fact, August is a big month for birthdays in my family.

My daughter, Norah, had her 1st birthday (now 3) on the 7th. My mother also named Nora had her 77th (now 79) birthday the next day on the 8th. My sister, Gwendolyn, had her birthday on the 14th and my son, David, had his 8th (now 10) birthday the next day on the 15th. I have two nephews with birthdays on the 30th and 31st. And I have a good friend whose birthday is on the 30th.

Because of this month, I have always thought about the significance of the birthdays. And anyone who knows me will realize how important birthdays are to me and that I try to remember my family and friend’s birthdates as much as possible.

However, I have noticed in our culture most people either downplay, dismiss, or even criticize their birthdate. Especially after they have turned 30.

I have to write, I just don’t get that at all!

Go back and read those two scriptures at the top of this blog post. God knew us before we were born. God knew us while we were in our mother’s womb. God knew us and choose the day we would come into the world and be a part of humanity.

Thinking about that last sentence just blows me away. The fact I had absolutely nothing to do with being born on August 31st is incredible. I didn’t get choose if I could be born on August 30th or September 1st.  Or I couldn’t tell my mother I wanted to stay in her womb for a few more months.  I was born in St. Petersburg, Florida. Have you been to Florida in August?  It’s Hot!!

I’m so appreciative that I get to celebrate my birthday each year.  It means that God wants to me continue to be a part of humanity and enjoy the life he has given me.

However, it seems there are a lot of people in our culture who don’t enjoy or care about their birthdays. I have lived in five cities in my adulthood and everyone acts the same way towards their birthday. Either they downplay it or complain about getting older or are bother by other people recognizing it.  I have to write that has always bothered me.

I feel that by not properly acknowledging your birthday you don’t fully appreciate God’s creation of you and the life he has created.

I know some of you read that last sentence and felt I was a little harsh about this birthday thing. But, I will stand by it because we only get one chance at life and if we truly love life then we have to honor the day the God gave to us.

People will come and go out of your life.  Money comes and go out of your life. Jobs will come and go.  Unfortunately, marriages don’t always last. (And some people celebrate their anniversaries more than their birthdays)  But, birthdays are permanent.

My hope for this blog post (more than any other I will write) is people began to honor the day they were born. I believe by appreciating our birthdays we will honor God more than anything else will ever do in our lives.


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9 Comments

  1. Hi, Marion. Over the last 6 years that my middle daughter has been alive, I’ve made many trips to St. Petersburg from Fort Myers. Before the necessity was the pleasure of driving to St. Petersburg to visit the Dali museum there.

    As for birthdays, I think for some people it’s a matter of modesty to downplay any sort of attention that they would receive. This doesn’t mean that they don’t appreciate their birthdays or that they don’t want anyone celebrating it — it just means they feel awkward in the spotlight. For others, birthdays turn into a time of un-looked for reflection on their lives: a time when they are reminded of the dreams that never came to fruition, possibly of the harm that they had done years ago which cannot now be redressed, a realization that this life that they are living is vastly different and certainly less cinematic than they had once believed to be their destiny. In other words, it’s a time when many of us come face to face with the contrast between the real limitation of our lives and our lifelong dreams. And I know a few people that are simply haunted by how “every day represents more and more subtracted from less and less.” (Hitchens… yes, that Hitchens… it’s a good phrase.)

    All of these reasons, except the first, are representative of our human frailty. We can and should deal with it, of course, but no doubt with a huge amount of respectful compassion.

    As for the first reason — the humility or shyness about the spotlight — I’ll just offer the cultural curiosity that in most Orthodox Christian traditions one’s birthday isn’t celebrated. Instead of the birthday, people celebrate their “Name Day,” i.e. the day when the saint for which they are named is celebrated. On that day they will have a celebration, inviting their priest, godparents, friends and family, and often times will give their guests gifts rather than receiving them. There’s a lot to admire in that. It’s just possible that some people downplay any celebration where they grew up learning to become greedy on that particular day because they want to act like non-greedy adults.

    Anyway, my only intention was to share some alternatives as to why people can be uncomfortable with birthdays. And having done so, let me say,

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

    May God grant you many years.

    Christopher, a.k.a. Tuirgin
    (from CFAN)

    • Christopher,

      Thanks for the b-day wishes and your comments. It is much appreciated and it gives me a chance to clarify my thoughts this week’s blog post.

      I do understand that some people would downplay their birthdays because it makes them reflect on their lives and think about their unfulfilled dreams or expectations that have not been met. Or the fact they don’t want to bring a spotlight to themselves on their birthday. I could see those reasons as being valid.

      But, I was looking at this from a biological perspective and as well as spiritual perspective. The fact that God knew what day we would leave our mother’s womb and join the rest of humanity is still absolutely incredible to me. Also, that we had nothing to do with the choice of our birthdays even adds to my amazment.

      Yes, it is easy to take that for granted. What’s the big deal? But I believe that God makes a big deal by having us by set aside a day once a year for it. We don’t have a birthday every day or every week or every month…..so to me that is something special and we should honor it.

      Christopher, I never mentioned gifts or getting anything for birthday in my column. I realized once I became an adult that getting gifts for my birthday is nice and I would always appreciate them. But that has never been my reason to celebrating my birthday.

      For example, today I bought my wife the new iPhone4. She has been wanting the iPhone and today was a good time to get it for her. She asked me if I wanted anything and I didn’t. I can always buy books or cd’s at any time and there was no need to get me something today.

      I’ve had 39 of these days and that God has allow me to live to see another is pretty special and acknowledging and thanking Him for another year gives me a proper perspective about my life.

      I wish more people would look at their birthdays as something special and outside of their doing and not focus on their issues or unfulfilled dreams or getting older. If life is precious….than the date they were brought into this world should be precious as well.

      P.S.: I’ve only been to the Dali Museum one time in St. Pete. It’s funny when you grow up in a city you don’t go the attractions that the tourists see when they visit. I’ve always wondered about that. However, I did enjoy growing up in St. Pete but now I live in San Antonio and have become a Texan!!! LOL!

      • My trips to the Dali museum were the specific reason for my going to St. Pete prior to the trips for my daughter’s doctor visits. Call it an artistic pilgrimage rather than tourism. 😀 I’ve been there at least 4 or 5 times. I’m less interested in the surrealist period work than I am his later neo-classical period, which are his mature works.

        As for birthdays, I wasn’t criticizing your positive statements about birthdays, but trying to provide possible answers to you when you wrote:

        “I have noticed in our culture most people either downplay, dismiss, or even criticize their birthdate. Especially after they have turned 30.

        “I have to write, I just don’t get that at all!”

        It was not to contradict, but to at least give an acknowledgment of the very real struggles that people have and to respect that struggle. Once these genuine struggles are acknowledged, then yes, your response is very good — the day leads to meditation on God and not the self. Most of us need help connecting the dots beyond our own self-interest and ego-mania. That is all. I hope you didn’t feel I was arguing against you.

        Christopher

  2. Hi, Marion

    I don’t really think about my birthday much, never have. I do have a limited celebration, like, hubby will take me out to dinner. Gifts? I usually ask for what I want, or sometimes, I can’t really think of anything that I want. My birthday is July 30th and this year I asked for a trip to the nearby Amish market to get a new bookcase! 🙂

    My nonchalant attitude about my birthday stems from my upbringing, I think. I was raised Jehovah’s Witness, and, growing up, we never really celebrated our birthday, and I was taught that it was a sin to do so.

    I’m no longer a part of that faith, but, have found that it’s hard to suddenly make a huge deal about my birthday when I’ve never done this in the past. On some of my birthday days, I don’t even recall it’s my birthday until later in the morning – it’s not the first thing that’ll come to mind when I wake up on my birthdate.

    My son’s birthday is the day after mine, July 31st. He just turned seven, so, with his birthday so close to mine, and, since he’s still a child, I’ve been paying more attention to my birthday since we’re celebrating his birthday on the following day.

    I enjoyed reading your blog post.

    • Cecelia,

      Thanks for your comments.

      I began to take my birthday seriously when my dad died back in 2004. It reminded me of my own mortality and I thought that honoring the day I was born is important.

      Somehow in our culture…I believe we have an issue with getting older. However, it is something that everybody will do no matter how long they live. And I have no control of that….so that’s why I believe there’s something bigger behind that.

      Marion

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