“Dear Mrs. Dayle, I love you and I like you bringing treats to me and Charlie.”
I had a birthday recently, not something I’m all that crazy about. Birthdays are reminders that time keeps moving even when I long for it to slow down. But this little message made my day.
I’ve got a dear friend I meet with weekly, and we talk. Some would call it coaching; it’s really a delightful friendship with an old soul who is a lot younger than I am. She has four sons, six and under, and because we meet at her apartment, I’ve discovered a way to their hearts that makes my showing up fun rather than frustrating.
I bring them cookies. From Starbucks.
On my birthday, three-year-old Oliver wanted to celebrate me. They got me a gluten-free cake, made a delightful card, and visited me at the office to wish me a happy birthday.
I couldn’t have been more surprised or pleased. Celebrating with them was easy and fun. They were delighted that they could dazzle me with this sweet treat and their presence.
My teammates honored me and my birthday twin, also on the team, at lunch. We laughed, talked, and shared stories. They were compassionate and caring and said truly wonderful things about both of us.
Then it got deep. And I began to squirm.
It’s part of my story. It hit me why all these well-wishes were so hard to receive.
Growing up, I was the one who pushed the envelope. Always too far. I’ve been told my personality is a lot like my mother’s, and I managed to get under her skin way too quickly and consistently. My experience with attention became more negative; hiding from hurt became my norm.
I didn’t try to be rebellious. It just happened. The harder I tried to please her, the worse I made it.
As my friends pursued my evasiveness, I joked about being done with their kindness. Having had enough goodness for one birthday.
They didn’t let me get away with that. They pressed in, and I was able to say how being the center of attention was painful.
Some never get the chance to experience others celebrating them. Opportunity doesn’t present itself or there aren’t people who will choose to do it. There are others like me who love to celebrate people but would rather turn the focus of praise on anyone other than me.
Some are able to receive such encouragement and genuine compliments well. I envy their confidence.
The truth is, God celebrates each one of us. Being created in His image, His fingerprints are all over our lives, whether we choose to recognize them or not. He’s invested Himself in the character qualities we possess, in the ways we enjoy life, in the things we do well. But our doing has no effect on whether or not He celebrates who we are.
He delights in us because we are His. And if we choose to know Him, we will experience that delight completely.
We’re all worth celebrating. God says so.