Today is my birthday. If you haven’t made a final decision on my gift, there is still time, and remember, it is only once a year so don’t worry about cutting corners, price-wise. Of course, I’m kidding as I am not crazy about birthdays (unless you actually bought me something, in which case let your yes be yes and follow through and all that). I mean, I like them and I really enjoy feeling loved by so many great people in my life, but it isn’t a day I go nuts about like the way . . . hmm, I don’t know . . . say . . . my wife does. She considers August her month and begins making me aware of its presence in about February.
But whether all about birthdays or not, there is always something that stands out about them. Today, that thing was simple. I checked my email and I got a reminder from a floral company that it was “Matt’s Birthday.” The email urged me to be sure to send flowers to “Matt” without knowing I was, indeed, that Matt. I laughed about the idea of sending flowers to myself, and then a moment of soberness caught me: I can laugh because I have a lot of people who love me in my life and are willing to show that love. My family is close and still alive; I was fortunate to have opportunities in life to form some good friendships; there was stability throughout my life–granted to me, mind you–that allowed for healthy relationships. So it is hard for me to fathom a birthday that is lonely.
But not everyone has had my experiences. There are some out there who have lost dear family, whose marriages may have broken up, who may have grown up moving from city to city, without the chance to form deep relationships. Or maybe there are a lot of surface level acquaintances but no deep ones? In that situation, I imagine birthdays and holidays are extremely difficult, and perhaps sending flowers to yourself insures that at least you’ll get something on what is supposed to be a special day.
And so what began as a chuckle turned to simple conviction: look out for the lonely in my world and seek to come alongside them. It is so easy to live life through the lens of my own circumstances and experiences, and neglect the needs of those around me. I can’t send everyone flowers on their birthday–I know that. But I can be the type of person that causes fewer people around me to have to order flowers for themselves by loving them well and reminding them of their inherent value.