Heidi Baker’s work in Mozambique particularly focusses on children. Orphaned children. Children who feel unloved are loved. So they house them, clothe them, educate them, have fun with them and show and tell them of God’s love. One thing they do, that got my attention, is celebrate birthdays. They do that with a big party one day each month. Every child with a birthday that month is made special with presents, special food and games. They are told they are valuable, appreciated and loved – by them and Jesus Christ. They celebrate birthdays.
When I asked the other day about things we should never forget, my wife Sam came up with ‘birthdays’. It made me wonder – what would life would be like if we didn’t celebrate birthdays? We’d still be a year older but life would be a bit more dull. Something would be missing. We’d miss a day to remember and affirm people we appreciate. Because we all need that.
We all need affirmation. And on a birthday, we have our day. We’re told and shown that we’re loved. That’s why, when someone forgets your birthday, it sometimes feel like they’ve forgotten you.
Celebrating someone else’s birthday is also good for each of us, too – although some find that hard. I find it fascinating watching children watch others opening birthday presents. Some have eyes wide open, sharing in the joy of the birthday girl or boy. Whilst others look bored. They’re fidgeting and uninterested. Why? Because it’s not their birthday. But that’s the point! You’re not supposed to be the centre of attention on someone else’s birthday! Birthdays remind me that life is not all about me.
When a loved-one has died, it’s often on their birthday that we especially pause to remember them. So on 16th Feb, I find myself thinking about my dad. He died seven years ago. I miss him and am looking forward to seeing him again in eternity. I’m grateful for him. Especially on the anniversary of his birthday.
Today is Ben’s birthday. My eldest son. He is 19. In our family he will be the centre of attention today, and rightly so. I am hoping and praying that he has a very happy birthday. Because he is deeply valued and greatly loved.
Birthdays. Yes, they are important.