Yesterday was my 28th birthday, which means I am one year closer to the dreaded age of 30, and everyone knows stuff starts falling apart after 30. FREE PIECE OF INFO: Life goes by really fast…do not take it for granted (and all of the grandparents reading collectively say, “Amen!”). I grew up in a family where birthdays consisted of a cake (sometimes) and a present (all of the time), but my family never went over the top. I married into a family, however, where birthdays and other life events (such as anniversaries) are given the utmost significance. I learned this the hard way when my wife’s birthday rolled around the first year we were dating. Apparently in her family a birthday REQUIRES a birthday cake. I did not know this. One would think this is a piece of info that needs to be passed down from family to boyfriend. Well, needless to say her birthday was an enormous fail because there was no birthday cake. I believe I could have bought her a shiny pearl wrapped in gold and her birthday would still have been a failure. She was expecting a cake. Well, I learned my lesson. The next year I made sure to go to the local bakery and buy her the most beautiful, exquisite caramel cake in the store. I then purchased some candles and made sure the cake was waiting on her when she got home from school. She walked in the door and immediately it was like someone took a needle and popped the air out of her balloon. I was baffled. What had I done wrong? Well, come to find out not only does she expect a birthday cake, but she expects a birthday cake that looks and appears like an actual birthday cake (so it needs to say “Happy Birthday” and have some sprinkles). Who would have thought? Not me. Again, one would think this is pertinent info that should be passed down from family to boyfriend (as an aside, I have the best in-laws in the world. This info was probably transmitted to me, but many times my transmitter has technical problems). My wife has been raised to expect certain things on her birthday because her parents instilled in her that birthdays are special days.
I used to disagree with placing special significance on birthdays and other events, but I have now changed my mind. You see, as my birthday progressed yesterday, I series of events transpired that led me to believe something big was going to happen. The whole day I anticipated something that, at the end of the day, never happened. I was disappointed. As I was talking to my wife about what happened (or did not happen), I told her God taught me something important…people want and deserve to feel special occasionally. I never really understood this until yesterday. I believe it is not only innate in humans to desire to be loved, but it is also innate in humans to want to receive some extra attention on occasion. And it is not a bad thing; in fact, I think God built us this way. So, I started thinking about some people in my “sphere of influence” I could impact in a positive way. And I want to challenge you to do the same thing. Here are some ideas I came up with:
1.) Make a phone call to someone you have not seen or talked to in a while just to tell them you are thinking about them.It could be a relative (such as a grandmother, sibling, etc.), a friend you have lost contact with, or someone from your church you have not seen in a few weeks. One of the most memorable parts of my birthday occurred when somebody who is a member at the church where I am employed called me just to wish me happy birthday. Nothing else. It took him all of one minute, but the fact that he sat aside time to call me and not just send me a text message or write on my Facebook timeline really resonated with me. I will be honest, even though I am thankful for people writing on my Facebook wall, it still seems a bit impersonal for those closest to me. I have a hard time believing people actually go through their timeline and look at every person who wishes them happy birthday. Not that I am completely against it, but if you are close to the person, send them a text message at the very least. Which leads to the next idea…
2.) Send a text message or email to someone you love thanking them for their positive influence in your life. Technology makes it so easy for us to connect with others, and this is a quick, but powerful way to impact someone’s day. I still remember receiving a very encouraging e-mail one day from a member at my church who commended me on a message I delivered the previous Sunday. I even remember some of the specifics of the e-mail, and she wrote the e-mail about three or four months ago. It meant a lot to me, and your heart-felt e-mail or message can mean a lot to someone else.
3.) Compose a hand-written letter to someone at your church or work. Hand written cards indicate to the one receiving that you have not only thought about them, but you have put time into it. Put together a hand-written note to the preacher or one of the elders at your church thanking them for their hard work. They do much more laboring than the average person realizes. You can also send a letter to your boss or someone random at your church. This is something I have decided to do weekly. You may think this is subtle, but I promise hand-written cards or letters are a huge boost and encouragement (and it is weird how they always come at just the right time).
4.) Invite someone to lunch or go see someone who does not have people in their lives to make them feel special. When my wife worked at a nursing home last year, she would come home and tell me story after story of a man or woman abandoned by their family. She could see the sadness and loneliness on the faces of so many people. These stories made my heart hurt. I can not imagine being in a position where my family has either died or left me to die in a nursing home. Many of you know somebody far away from family or who has lost family and needs some encouragement. Maybe you know an elderly person who would benefit from a short visit. Make it happen.
5.) Invite someone into your home for dinner. I hold to the idea people are much more perceptive than we give them credit for. Therefore, the more work you put into something, the more people are going to feel like you really care about them. Go through the trouble of making dinner for somebody. It will have a greater impact than simply asking them to meet you at a restaurant. Maybe it is a neighbor across the street or a widow, and you have been thinking about inviting them over for a while now. Do not delay any longer.
The options available for helping others are endless, but we have to stop allowing our lives to revolve around us and stop thinking we are too busy to impact other people. God taught me yesterday I need to be spending more of my time on this earth making other people feel special. He had to place in me a feeling of disappointment, but I am extremely grateful it happened. We never know the level to which our kind words or deeds will positively influence other people. Positively impacting others needs to be part of our lifestyle, and if you are a follower of Jesus you need to do some introspection if this is not part of your lifestyle. Make everyday a birthday for someone else. Take advantage of opportunities in your life to make other people feel special.
In the words of Kid President:
“Make this week awesome for somebody else.”
I love you all. To God be the glory forever. Amen!