Today is my birthday, and I'm not handling it well.
Not in the sense you may be thinking. It's not one of those milestone birthdays that makes you question your place in life and causes you to abandon your family for Costa Rica or spend your life savings on that 1965 Mustang GT500 you've always wanted.
No, the reason I'm not handling it well is that I'm not good at asking for things or getting my way, which is what you do on your birthday!
Maybe it's more common than I think; or maybe not. But as I examine why and how I got to a place where it's difficult for me to ask for favors and gifts, I think I've discovered that at least part of it is an improper handling of Christian piety.
We're taught to put ourselves aside, counting our lives as nothing. And so, over the years, in an effort to live a "proper" Christian life, I've often gone without opinion. But are we called to not have an opinion? Or are we called to selflessly lay down our lives, as Christ did.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.
A wise friend recently put it this way: If I am deciding on seeing a movie with a bunch of friends, and they ask me what I want to see, I would likely say, "I don't care," because I am probably going to be fine seeing whatever movie someone else wants to see; either that, or there will be someone in the group who really cares about seeing one particular film, and so good for them, I'm along for the ride.
The problem here, as my friend pointed out, is that over time, you train yourself to not have an opinion about anything, all in the name of selfless piety and Christ-likeness. Eventually, you are not able to form an opinion about anything! But leadership and decision making are parts of the Christian life too, and so what happens then? You are debilitated, unable to perform to at the level you were designed to, and unable to fulfill a major part of your calling.
So what's the solution? My friend summed up his point with this: the real pious thing to do is to know yourself (your opinions, your desires, etc.), and then willingly set them aside for the good of others. In knowing who you are, you are free to choose, but also fully equipped for the work you were given to do. After all, God is interested in knowing us, so shouldn't we spend time knowing ourselves?
And so on my birthday, this is what I want to do: go skateboarding, go surfing and spend time with friends and family. That's wasn't so difficult, was it? And though I can't do an all day surf session at Trestles with an infant by my side, at least I can take a leisurely surf trip to Malibu and still make time for the family.
Good, now I can test out that new 4/3 wetsuit I bought for myself because I didn't want to ask anyone else for it...(I still have a lot to learn.).