Last Sunday, I celebrated my 28th year on Earth. Twenty-eight years. I still can’t believe it. Growing up, I used to imagine huge milestones happening in my life past 25 years old. But here I am, pretty much the same younger me, with more responsibilities, new found friends, and broken and grace-filled moments to reminisce on. A colleague asked me how I wanted to celebrate my birthday this year and two things immediately popped in my mind: Time and Words. These are the top two love languages that I treasure the most and I desired to feel God’s love through them on my birthday.
I have this natural desire to help others feel special on their birthdays or on any occasion. I still don’t know why the Lord allowed me to have this trait and yearning in me, but every time it happens, I get fired up! My mind begins to spark with creative ideas. I end up coordinating with people and going the extra mile (sometimes, even literally) to get materials or even cakes and gifts. And on some occasions, by God’s grace, I effortlessly am able to produce songs or poems for family or friends. Just two nights ago, when one of my close friends celebrated her birthday, instead of sending her the usual greeting, I ended up composing a short, three-stanza poem for her which made her cry. Hahaha!
I really don’t know. Sometimes, I do feel that it comes off as being extra, which unintentionally puts pressure on others around me. But another part of me wonders why I become conscious about it, when it honestly just feels like something I was made to do. Whatever this is, I know that it is only by the grace of God that I am able to do this and if it does allow others to feel the love of God, then maybe I shouldn’t overthink. But, if it doesn’t, then, I pray that the Lord would give me wisdom.
The downside, however, of doing and being what I just shared is that, at times, I sincerely wish I would someday get to experience it too. Not on the giver’s side, but on the receiving end. Sometimes, I hope others would also go the extra mile, buy me flowers or a cake, gather family or friends and throw a surprise birthday for me, or intentionally spend time and talk with me over my favorite Frappuccino, without feeling any pressure to do so. It’s not something that I often think about, but it does cross my mind every time I celebrate my birthday. This year, it was a humbling moment for me to realize that because I decided to stay offline (away from Facebook and other social media apps), more people WILL NOT remember my birthday. As I mentioned in the first paragraph, I do cherish moments when people would spend time with me or say words of encouragement to me. So, I thought that less people remembering it meant having less chances of experiencing these two love languages.
As expected, on my birthday, only a few family and friends greeted me. I did feel mini heartbreaks when I realized that some close friends forgot about it. But, at the same time, God graciously humbled my heart and renewed my thoughts and emotions throughout that day. It started when I read Ephesians 6:10-20 in the morning and the Lord reminded me of the importance of putting on the full armor of God. What struck me in the passage was verse 17 which says: “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” It was crystal clear that God was showing me where I should place my security – not in the words of men; but in His words, promises, and truths which are found in the Bible. I also felt the love of the Lord when He reminded me of my worth and salvation in Him.
By God’s grace, starting the day with His word helped me kick off the lies and discouragements that tried to attack me that day. God even allowed me to enjoy spending the first few hours of my morning at one of my favorite places – Farmer’s Market, where I bought ingredients for our family’s dinner later that day. He also gave me the strength to go to church after, despite having a messed up body clock and sore muscles that week. Moreover, even though some of my family members were out of town that weekend, they all made it to my birthday dinner at home!
As I was driving from the grocery store to our house before my birthday dinner, I had a moment with the Lord, which went something like this:
“Lord, in a little while, I’ll be celebrating my gardening-themed birthday dinner at home. I don’t know if all my family members could make it, but it would be nice to spend time with them tonight. I humble myself before you and acknowledge that I have been selfish in my thoughts. I wanted others to remember my birthday. I wanted others to greet me with words of affirmation. I wanted everyone and anything else but You, Jesus. Still, You never gave up on me. It’s pretty cool that my birthday theme tonight will be about gardening, remembering some of the vegetables I grew, and digging deep, because that’s what you allowed me to experience all throughout the year! Both in the garden and in my heart!
Because I was offline, you helped me have more time to dig deep in your word while I was at home, in a coffee shop, or in the mountain. You helped me dig deep in my relationships with family members, friends, and colleagues. So, Lord, even though I may not receive the time and words that I originally longed for from others around me, I am reminded that YOU ARE ENOUGH. In fact, it says in Isaiah 40:8 and Matthew 24:35 that YOUR words will never fade away. So, why should I long for others? Lord, I hold on to Your words. Lord, I hold on to You today.”
I ended my birthday singing praises to the Lord, as He filled my heart with joy and thanksgiving. It has been twenty-eight years of brokenness and grace. As long as I am still breathing here on Earth, I pray that the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart will be pleasing to the Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)
Here are some more photos from my birthday celebration at home. I asked my family to dress up as the vegetables I planted and organic fertilizer I used through the years. I have to say, they did a pretty amazing job! Hahaha. Thanks, family, for being intentional in preparing for and celebrating my birthday with me. Introducing: The Corn family, Hot Chili, Gardener, Eggplant, Broccoli, Carrot, and Chicken poop fertilizer.
Oh, and did you notice my healthy Carrot “cake”? :D
(Special thanks to my sister, Camille, for her calligraphy skills and for helping me set-up; Gabo & Monica, for the free Milk tea & for helping me prepare the fruit kebabs; my parents, for sponsoring our main course; and our help Pajean, for taking our photo!)