Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Birthday Cake and Humble Pie

I journaled a few weeks ago in my post, Segues, Seeds, and Seasons, that new beginnings are rarely wrapped up with a bow on top, but rather tend to come in very messy packages indeed, such as "civil wars, screaming babies, and shattered seeds..."...Little did I know how prophetic those casually written words would prove to be...

My birthday was on October 13th, and, I guess there's that five year old in me that still looks forward to birthdays as much as ever and perhaps builds the day up in my mind a bit more than it ought to be built up, demanding it carry much more weight than my thirty seven years have warranted.

The day, or rather, the eve of the day, yes, "Birthday Eve" I suppose we'll call it, began with a crushing disappointment, which I think on a Tuesday in the middle of July would have been merely noted as a minor setback, however, this being "Birthday Eve", it was heralded in with hyperbole, and therefore, yes, it was crushing.

This epic event began a cold war in my house which lasted almost a week, unprecedented division, icy intervals, and embarrasingly unbirthday like behaviour from yours truly...

Had I really made myself and the celebration of myself so important that I had displaced the larger lessons of love and grace, kindness and humility?   Was I so determined that everything should be perfect to the point of making my dearest loved one feel like a pariah when the envisioned utopia did not materialize? 

There was an Infant King long ago who arranged His first birthday in a barn, Whose birthday guests were barnyard animals and Whose seat of honor was a stable, Whose confetti was cow food, straw and hay, Whose special day was heralded by one tiny candle of a star, and it wasn't even attached to a cake.  This is how He chose to enter the world, to celebrate His life and His life to come, in abject anonymity, in hiddeness and humility, without pomp or pretense, His first birthday came and went.

I learned a hard lesson this week, I saw a part of myself I didn't like very much at all, one which I would've loved to wrap up pretty with a bow on top, decorated in excuses and justifications, rationalizations and reason...But, as Hannah Hurnard wrote long ago, "He loves me far too well to leave me in my self-made hell, a Saviour is my Lord"...

He had a different birthday gift altogether in mind for me, a new beginning not wrapped in frilly superfluity, embellished with my shallow expectations, but in stark humility, in terse truth, a gift that would serve me well for a lifetime, instead of merely mesmerizing for a moment...

C.S. Lewis once wrote, "I do not believe that God primarily wants us to be happy; I think what He wants is for us to learn to love and to learn to be loved; I think He wants us to Grow Up."

That's what a birthday is all about afterall, getting older, growing up, a measure of maturity, and to perhaps begin to bear more of a resemblance to the one we were born to...or born again to...

Embracing Lewis' philosophy, it seems happiness - and happy birthdays - will surely follow...

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning." - James 1:17


  1. Hello! A fantastic and inspiring post. Thank you!

  2. Brilliant post, Hindsfeet. There is a lesson here for me, too... and for many I suspect. Happy belated birthday.

  3. Now, don't take this wrong... but my birthday being on December 22, I imagine that all the excitement in the air, festive events, decorations, hustle and bustle, twinkling lights, cheer, and gifts are all in aticipation of moi's 'special day'... I know it is not so, but the kid in me likes to pretend. (In fact, I've only just started doing this in the past 5 years...at age 50!) That said (tongue in cheek), Happy Belated Birthday!

  4. Thanks, Rodney! Can't wait to see your next "sunrise"! (What a cool collection of photos THAT would be! Sunrises seen from all over the world! : ) ) Happy Day over there! : )

  5. Thanks, Dan....A tough lesson to come by, but hey, aren't they usually...Hebrews 12:5-11 was the bit that came to me through it all...These painful lessons are worth it if in the end they produce a picture that looks a little more like Him, yeah? Thank Goodness for the encouragement in Phil 1:6, "He who began this work in you WILL complete it..." Hard to imagine sometimes as things look so messy during the process, but thankful for that promise and hope. : ) Peace, Dan : ) (off to see your new post in a moment! : ) )

  6. Oh Joy! I think that's a WONDERFUL way to look at it!! And hey! Since you are His, made one with Him, it really is a celebration of BOTH of your lives, isn't it! The celebration of His life born into you and your life re-born into Him! What a wonderful perspective!! : )

  7. Oh! And when everyone is standing and singing 'Joy to the World' in church, it is the best!!! ;) (My mom named me Joy 'cause I was her only girl and born so close to Christmas!) On a more serious note... you are forgiven!!! (for whatever horrible deed you did) :D

  8. Oh, BTW... I was just at our church organizing the library books and came across a book with 'Hindsfeet' in the title... Now, I am guessing that you have taken your 'name' from that book, but I didn't look too close as to what it is about. And I'm guessing it is a well-known book??? (But not by me!)

  9. Hi Joy : )...The book that my pen name is a nod to is "Hindsfeet on High Places" by Hannah Hurnard; is that the one you saw? It's a beautiful analogy of our walk through this life and how God shepherds us through it all...From the low places to the high places...It's one of the most meaningful books I've ever read and has carried me through a time or two...I hope hope hope you'll go back and read it, it's such a treasure...

    Now that I know about your birthday, I'll be sure to send a birthday wish your way the moment I first hear "Joy to the World" this Christmas time! : D How fun!

  10. Good morning, Hindsfeet... and yes, that is the book you mentioned. When I spotted it--amongst the other hundreds of books---I thought, 'Wow, surely God has led me to this book with YOUR 'name' in the title...' Of course, I will take a look at it. I liked your comment about wondering if 'God knows our 'address'. I was just lamenting to God yesterday morning that I didn't know if He cared about my hearing loss, and then I go to my e-mail from my other blog and waiting for me is a message from a mother I do not know who has 2 deaf children... she knew nothing of my hearing loss, I've never mentioned it before now on the internet. Long story short, she lives nearby and she and I will meet up for a story. Does God know my address? YES! And it also appears that He knows my e-mail address!! :D