Most of us remember waiting anxiously for our birthdays to come around - we would spend time thinking and planning on what kind of themed birthday we'd have, what kind of gifts we'd request, what meal mom would make, etc. Regardless the traditions, most of us would agree, a birthday is a special time in ones life. Of course the older you get, the less meaningful these birthday parties become (facing the reality of what age you're becoming can bee intimidating), but even so, there is something special about celebrating ones life with close friends and family.
Oftentimes, it is easy to take a birthday party for granted. I mean, doesn't everyone have a birthday? Wouldn't everyone have a birthday party?
Barberry reality hits. Not everyone has reliable family and friends to spend a birthday with. Not everyone has the luxury of getting their wish granted on their birthday. Not everyone has a happy birthday.
This October, two of our friends at Barberry had birthdays coming up.
One was a man who, through his broken past of drug-addict parents and unreliable friends, never had a happy birthday. At a game night, he came up to one of the guys and mentioned that. What does one do when an adult man in his late twenties mentions that he has never had a birthday party - and in his voice you can hear his longing for being recognized on his day of birth? It became very clear that night what needed to be done.
Through strategic planning - the party came and it was beautiful! One of the gifts he received was The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis - which was a book (and what are the chances) he almost read while he was in jail. We have been praying for him and know that God is working in his heart - please join us in praying for him and his family. I have no doubt that God has great plans to use him for His kingdom.
The second birthday that happened this year was for a woman who has grown dear to our hearts this past year. Linda is a woman who regardless of her disabilities, has God's love in her heart. Everywhere she goes, whoever she meets, she tells them not only how beautiful and precious they are, but also that she loves them and that God loves them. She lives with her mother at Barberry, and mentioned to us a few months ago that her birthday was October 18th.
Through collaboration with her mother, her family and the group here joined for a joyous birthday for Linda, daughter of the King of Kings. We made it a point to focus on the fact that she in indeed a princess - daughter of the Greatest King. She was all smiles and happily devoured the cake, which Jenn made from scratch.
But the joy of all of this, is not that these individuals receive the joy of having a birthday celebration in and of itself. The love of God was shining brightly for everyone - from the birthday guest, to their families, and to all of us Christians. The love and joy that fill a room when a person is intentionally loved in a way that we all often take for granted - through the simplest thing - a birthday party.
I hope these reflections speak to you as strongly as they spoke to me. Everyone was created with the strong desire to be known, to be recognized, and to be celebrated. Those of us who have families (immediate, extended, friends, church family) are blessed to live with this need met. Let us strive to love others the way they were created to be loved. Let us love others so that they may know that Christ loves them. It is no wonder why the Bible mentions time and again that the greatest is love. Praise God!