Happy Birthday to Me

 

My birthday’s coming! In a month, to be exact – technically everyone’s birthday is “coming” unless it’s that day, right? So I have been thinking about how to celebrate. This year my birthday falls on a long weekend, and Matt and I have talked about potentially going camping, and if that falls through we’ll probably invite some friends over for cake.

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We camped my birthday weekend in 2012

Or something.

While plans for the day remain up in the air, I have decided on one thing: what to ask for gifts.

Remember a couple weeks ago I mentioned how Jesus keeps disassembling the boxes I build for him? Well he’s been breaking down another box, and this time it’s one that I built for myself. This is a little box called death-to-self that I check off whenever I put others first or sacrificially obey God. While it doesn’t feel good to do, it sure does feel good to check that box. But lately Jesus has been gently pointing out the many excuses I make to not die to self, and he has asked me whether I really want to die to myself and fully embrace His life, or whether I prefer to live with one foot in the proverbial grave, waffling back and forth. I am disturbed that I justify so much selfishness as “self-care” given my status in the world (white, able-bodied, employed Canadian with a safe place to live, a loving spouse, and no-fee banking). Sure it’s a welcome treat to buy bubble tea for the walk home from the mall on a hot day, but I don’t “deserve” that treat more than an eight year old girl who waited in line for 6 hours to fill a jug with clean water. It is easy for me to indulge myself here and there and stay in our modest budget, but asked to donate to a children’s lunch program, women’s shelter, or disaster relief, my pat response is, “I’m already giving as much as I can.”

Here’s the thing about me and “as much as I can” though – love makes me feel generous. If a stranger needs $5 to buy lunch, I’m iffy about it, but if a friend was short $100 on rent I’m pretty sure I’d be ready to cut a cheque.

So with my inner turmoil on giving revealed as “lack of love” vs “responsible stewardship” (and y’all this is a legit struggle for me to find the balance), something has to change. So for the first time in my life, I am planning to celebrate my birthday by giving a gift instead of just receiving.  And I’m asking (humbly) that instead of buying a gift for me, my loved ones would consider donating with me to Compassion’s Nicaragua Child Support Program. I am so passionate about birth, and I feel truly blessed to have been born in Canada and to have given birth in Canada, where I had choices in where and with whom I’d deliver, skilled attendants, and universal health care to pay for it all.IMG_20141201_130330

Meanwhile in Nicaragua…

  • more than 1 in 4 women give birth without the help of a skilled birth attendant.
  • four times as many babies die during their first year of life in Nicaragua compared to Canada.
  • nearly eight times as many women in Nicaragua die from pregnancy-related causes compared to Canada.
  • more than 1 in 5 children in Nicaragua have stunted growth from malnutrition in their first two years of life.

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So… like I need anything.

I understand that this will rub some people the wrong way, that self-care does matter and that gifts are meant to show love not fill needs. But this is where I am this year: overwhelmed with all that I have and unable to imagine receiving more in the face of global need I cannot comprehend. This is my way of throwing one starfish back into the ocean, and I’d be honoured if you’d join me.

Click here or the link above to donate to the Child Survival Program in Nicaragua. This post is not sponsored in any way, and I do not have any affiliation with Compassion Canada other than sponsoring a child through them.

If you are intrigued at the idea of gifts that really meet needs around the world, check out the Gifts of Compassion catalogue (other groups have similar programs). For $40 you can help a new mom start a guinea pig breeding business! Hilarious, yet truly meaningful gifts.

P.S. You don’t have to wait for my real birthday to do it 😛

 

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