Orchestrating my Birthday

Friday, February 8, 2019

I think I know why I started orchestrating my birthday. My first birthday in the U.S. happened on a cold day in 1999. In the previous 18 years, my birthday happened in the Brazilian summer. I was surrounded by the warmth of my family. I said goodbye to all of that when I accepted the plan of God for my life and moved to the States. 

Two new friends took me to a local pizza place that evening. I was in the U.S. long enough to notice the ads for stuffed crust. We ordered our pizza and we enjoyed our time together. When it was time to get the bill, we told the waiter (who was the manager really) it was my birthday. He told me the meal was free to celebrate the date. He also told me not to tell my friends in college about it. He didn't want revenue loss. I thought that was a kind, selfless act on his part. I am sure God orchestrated it all. 

As the years rolled by, my birthdays became a blur. I know I had them. I was often working or getting ready for classes to start again. 

When I met my husband, everything changed. He celebrated me like I've never experienced before. Birthdays became a time to thank God for life and to really enjoy the one day dedicated to me. 

One year during my birthday, Zeke and I in Brazil. He got to experience my family's way of celebrating birthdays. That year, both of my grandmothers were still alive. One of them joined us for lunch at a steakhouse. We took a lot of pictures. It was my last birthday celebration with my grandmothers. I treasure those memories. I'm sure God orchestrated that day.

When we moved to Texas, I became a little obsessed with the details of my birthday. I left all of my friends in N.C. but I still needed to go on with life and celebrations. 

My first Texas birthday was fun. A group of friends from church came to our home and we had a thanksgiving service to God. We thanked Him for another year of life and we ate Brazilian food and cake. The kids were tiny and I was pregnant with my youngest daughter. 

As the years rolled by, I kept the celebration going, I just struggled with the consistency of the friendships in my life. I have written a lot about friendships and I will continue to do so. One of the things I have a difficult time understanding is why some friendships are conditional. Conditional friendships are the ones that work for one person only. The conditions need to be just right. If one detail does not work for them, they are out of the picture and the friendship stagnates. 

I struggled with a birthday party list. Should I include the conditional friendship people? If I exclude some people, are the others going to mind? I became a bit obsessed with orchestrating my birthday during those years. Mind you: I had fun. I had great celebrations. The what-ifs in gathering a guest list were not fun at all. 

I think my breaking point came when I was fussed at by a few friends on my birthday. I thought, "this is my only day to have fun and celebrate the life God is giving me. I don't need this kind of attitude." I proceeded with that year's lovely celebration determined the next birthday would be different. 

The following year, I decided to cut way back on the parties and hold a small celebration with family. It was great. The next year, we included a friend who's known me for 20 years and one of my cousins who was living near us. That party was a lot of fun.

I still struggled with wanted to orchestrate everything. I decided to write a new year's goal to "stop orchestrating my birthday." Orchestrating means over planning. It was hard to do but now that is all over, I can say my 2019 birthday was extra special.

When I stopped orchestrating things, I gave my friends a chance to express their feelings in their own timing. I also gave my friends the liberty to celebrate my birthday however they chose. When I stopped orchestrating my birthday, I gave friendship a chance to bud and flourish in a different way. 

There were celebrations, dinners, phone calls, and remembrance the entire month following my birthday. I was thankful to stop controlling things. Sometimes, that's the only way you know that you really have.

I believe that my friends add a lot of joy to the fabric of life. When I stopped orchestrating my birthday, I saw that joy firsthand.

I don't know a lot a lot of people who orchestrate their own birthdays. I do know we all have the tendency to orchestrate some area of our lives. 

It might be related to marriage or parenting. It may even be your career. I'm not suggesting that we become careless in relationships and job responsibilities. 

I am telling you that when you stop orchestrating, you see what you really have. 

The first step is to recognize our controlling tendencies. The second step is to let go of fear. The third step is to stand there and see what comes back to you.