A Heart Set Free from Birthday Paranoia


I did not want to have my birthday this year.  I know that sounds terrible, but since I'm still in a new place, miles and miles away from home, I didn't want to have to celebrate without my family and friends. I started thinking about this two or three weeks before the big day, and knew I was in a pickle.

Here's the thing, I knew I could ignore my birthday. It was in my power to act like it was just another Wednesday… but the problem came when other people got involved. I was paranoid about feeling pressure from others to have the most perfect day, and I feared the pity looks I would get if someone heard I was boycotting any celebration. I didn't want my birthday to be about performing to meet others expectations, but I didn't know how to tell anyone that I didn't want to do anything at all. 
So with all this fear and paranoia over the silliest of things, I knew I needed to process these thoughts with someone wiser than me, so I started praying. I approached God in freedom - knowing I didn't have to impress him by saying the right thing. That's a freedom I take full advantage of, by the way.
I knew a heart change would have to come from deep within to be believable. This attitude adjustment was not something I could force or fake - it had to come from the Lord. 
For two weeks, I asked God to change my heart. I told him that my birthday is between us, just God and me, so I asked for Him to give me His eyes…. I asked for a genuine heart of gratitude, which is not something that comes natural to me. My family will tell you - for every good thing, I always include a "but." (like… the coffee is great but they forgot to use skim milk, etc.) Seriously, sometimes I think my spiritual gift is negativity. I'm so good at it. 
Eventually, the days caught up with me. I woke up and just like that, I was 23. I went into work treating it like any other day, didn't even stop at Starbucks for my free birthday drink. I sat down at my desk and started checking emails… saying thank you to my sweet co-workers who greeted me with "Happy Birthdayyyyy" when they walked inside. I prayed to God - "Lord, I need you.." and kept working through my inbox. 
A message popped up from an unrecognized name… I clicked on it and saw "Someone has made a WorldVision donation in your name." Huh?? I kept reading.
The photo above is a screenshot of the email.... It was followed by a personal message from my best friend. 
I sat there in shock and re-read the text. I watched a little video about where the money goes, and let God's truth roll over me. 
On a day when my biggest lack was a slice of birthday cake, my best friend donated to help those who are desperate for basic nourishment… In my undeserving, overly-critical, selfish name! ;) And while I am missing my sweet, loving, chaotic family who are 7 hours away, Kayla donated to help children who might not have a family at all. Talk about putting things in perspective.
Obviously, the only way I could really process this was to sneak into the bathroom and cry for a couple minutes (#emotionalgirlprobz). I was so humbled - not only to understand the significance of this, but also the fact that once again, God answered my prayer. I needed something to resonate and shake me out of my shallow vision of myself, and that came. Kayla had no idea what I'd been praying for - she told me later she was looking into sending care packages and cat t-shirts, which would have been great, but what I needed was deeper than that. I needed to see God - not receive a temporary, fading gift. God knew that and He guided. 
From there, the rest of my day changed. I refocused and put God in the center of the day… Text I knew to be true in my head became real in my heart. God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. He is joy, He satisfies, He is loving. He is the giver of all things, He gives peace, He is an anchor for my soul. 
And what do you know? Once I had that foundation established and secure, other gifts started pouring in. I was not seeing God through the lens of things that came through, but rather saw the things through the lens of God. And oh, what a sweet and refreshing change that is! 
Every text and phone call spoke to my heart. Each flower I received reflected God's beauty and glory. Each "happy birthday" Facebook comment represented God's view of community. And then, the greatest gift of all was when two of my friends forced me to go out to dinner with them and we celebrated with sweet community, and I even got that slice of birthday cake. 
I was wary of posting this, not wanting there to be another social media birthday post for someone to compare themselves to… But I want to encourage anyone who struggles with satisfaction to test God in this. Ask Him to reveal to you how He is enough, and see what He does. You have a lot to gain and not much to lose. 
Also, if you are interested in letting this gift keep giving, head over to my best friend Kayla's blog and find out how you can help her on her own birthday mission of raising $360 to support 12 children for a month. This is what she is asking for her birthday and I can't wait to see how God generously shows up.