The Evolving Nature Of A Man’s Birthday


Birthdays are a funny thing for a man. When you were a kid you were filled with excitement as your “special” day came near and that date, whatever it may be, became your day. It belonged to you! You were filled with anticipation about the presents you would receive, or the party that would be held in your honor. It was all about the physical! And that was the “meaning” of birthday’s to me till, at the age of 19,  I went on a church mission to Argentina. There, I once attended and celebrated with an elderly couple the birthday of the husband. During the course of the party I was alone in a conversation with the wife. She confided in me that this really wasn’t his “birthday.” He had been born in poverty and abandoned by his biological parents. His date of birth was unknown. He had been raised in an orphanage. And although this man had no idea what day, or even the exact year in which he had  been born, he had choosen a day to celebrate his birth.  It was important to him to have a day marking the beginning of his existence on this earth.  He wanted to have a day to feel “special.”  Here he was in the later stages of life, and he still felt the need to be recognized.

I suppose that all of us feel a need to be recognized on occasion and I guess I am no different. Birthdays provide that opportunity.  Today I will celebrate my birthday. And although I am now on the downhill side of life, it is still nice to be recognized.  However, as I have aged, my birthday now provides for me the opportunity to reflect upon the blessings that the Lord has bestowed upon me and my family over the past year of my life.  For me, my birthday has evolved from a day of wanting,  to a day of thanksgiving.  As I have aged, birthdays for me have changed from being about the physical, to more about the spiritual. Perhaps Paul expressed it best when he wrote:

“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (1 Corinthians 13:11)

I don’t think I am different from other men.  I think for the aging man,  the gifts of life and liberty take center stage, and all the balloons and presents that seemed to thrill us as a youth have long since been replaced with appreciation for gifts of the heart. I don’t know what I will get for my birthday this year, but all I really want is a smile and a hug from my grandchildren, kids, and wife.  It’s a gift that seems to stay with me long after the party is over. The greatest gift I hope for,  is another year on this earth, so I can spend more time with those I love.  I hope God  knows about the evolving nature of a man’s birthday, because he is the only one who can give me that gift. I hope he is listening so that next year, at this same time, I am once again,  basking in the glow of a bunch of candles, with the familiar faces of those I love!


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