In the USA, we celebrate birthdays in grand ways. Even in the person’s first year, we have decorations, cake, and balloons, and then, invite many people to partake who all bring presents. The one year old may have no clue what it means, but he or she is already being conditioned to expect one day of the year to be focused entirely on him or her.
Our Lives were gifted to us
We learn early to feel entitled of having our birthday be all about us. We do not want the people in our life to share our same birthday or even have one within a few days of ours. We also do not like it if it falls near a major holiday, because our birthday gets “lost” in the focus of the larger event. We are taught from the beginning that our birthday is “our day,” and that it is the one day of the year that the focus is and should be on us.
I do not want to be a birthday “party pooper,” but this is backwards. We did not do anything to be born, but rather, our lives were gifted to us. Instead of celebrating ourselves, we should thank our parents or caregivers, not only for the gift of life, but also for the care they gave us since our birth. As we grew up, they took care of each of our needs. We were fed, taught, protected and, for most of us, tenderly loved. Our birthday should be a day of appreciating the gift of life and nurture we have received, and then, directing that appreciation appropriately.
Focus on the giver of life
Ultimately, however, our birthdays should cause us to focus on the Giver of Life, Himself. He is the One who provided the people and resources that sustained our lives. He is the one responsible for every good gift we have or will ever receive, including the gift of life, itself! If ever a day we should focus on God and give Him gifts of worship, praise, obedience and service, it is on the day our birth and life is commemorated.
In Ghanaian culture, the day a person is born is so important that people are known by the day of the week they were born. For example, everyone who is born on a Monday is known by the name Kojo. So, in Ghana, I might go by Kojo Jimmy. During Sunday services at churches in Ghana, they will have, both, a regular offering and a birthday offering. As each day of the week is called, those who were born on that day will dance to the front of the church and joyfully give their offering to thank God for the gift of their life. Every week in the Ghanaian church, they celebrate their day of birth. We, also, should give birthday gifts to God, the One who has given us life and the many blessings we receive each day.
his gift of my life
I think it is great to make someone feel special on their birthday, or on any day for that matter. However, on my birthday, I hope I thank God for life, recenter my focus on Him, and give Him a special gift because of His gift of my life, both abundant and eternal.