We had two birthdays in my house over the last weekend. My two younger sons were born four years and two days a part. What this practically meant was five celebrations in five days: one friend party, one family party (our kids get a friend party every other year), a larger family celebration, and a school celebration for each child as well. That is some serious child partying.
Both boys were each racked with anticipation in the days and weeks leading up to their big days. Between the friends, family, presents, cake, and sheer joy- those days did not disappoint!
Think about what a birthday celebration actually is in its essence. It is simply the celebration of one more year of life for a particular individual. You made it. You lived one more year. You experienced an entire year of life and that is something to be celebrated! You have grown and matured and developed and seen highs and lows. You are alive. That apparently deserves cake and friends and presents and decorations and a party. We are celebrating being alive. And we do it every year for everyone in my house.
It is fantastic. What an exciting tradition. It is a powerful statement. Life is worth celebrating!
In our church we often speak of a God who is renewing and restoring humanity and the world- his creation. But the world isn’t just something to be restored. It is something to be enjoyed and celebrated as well. My friend, Kevin Sweeney, has this saying that he often repeats at his church in Hawaii: The world is both broken and in need of repair and beautiful and in need of enjoyment. Birthdays bring the joy.
In our house, we have this particular tradition on birthdays that really form the heart of the celebration. This tradition cuts through everything else and forms the core of the day. We sit at the dinner table together at the end of the evening and speak words of life into each other. Looking back over the lived experience of the last year, each person at the table has a turn to share three things they see and affirm and love about the birthday boy (or mom). It can be character or heart or accomplishment or overcoming moment or recent development or simply a new observation. And these words bring life.
We each anticipate this moment more than anything else about our birthdays (even Jen and I). The boys rush through opening presents with a flurry of excitement that dissipates as quickly as it builds. But, when we sit to speak words of life over and into each other- they settle in to receive these gifts in a slow, present, and deep way. The weight of the moment is profound. Even my (now) five year old settles in impossibly still and present to receive his words- a blessing over his life.
When we say, “It is time to share three things,” everyone rushes to the table anticipating the gift of giving and receiving words of life and affirmation. I wrestle all day with what I will share because I know that a father’s blessing is a profound gift and I do not take it lightly. It is powerful to see our words shape each other’s minds, hearts, and confidence.
Words have power; words shape life. And life is something to be celebrated and enjoyed!
Celebrate living. Never take it for granted. Use your words to breath life and joy into those around you. We need it. Because it is easy to see and remember the ways this world is broken and in need of repair, but it is sometimes difficult to remember that it is also beautiful and in need of enjoyment.
Bring joy and speak life. Celebrate the gift of another day everyday and bring people with you. Speak words of life to those around you. And don’t forget that your words have immense power. Embrace it and wield that power for joy.