Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Birthday Worth Celebrating

Many wished me a Happy Birthday earlier this week, and I am happy to accept the wishes and prayers on my behalf. The thought I had on the morning of my birthday was that, while I don’t feel I deserve to receive any special honor for just having been born (!), it feels good for people to acknowledge my birthday as a day to be thankful for.

Four days ago, I attended the “Welcome Home” party for a tiny baby who died 57 minutes after she was born. Her parents had chosen to carry her to term, knowing she would not live for any substantial length of time. After her birth, they chose to celebrate her shortened life, and in gratitude for God's gift, they shared her with all the extended family during those 57 minutes. Instead of a funeral, they gave her a party to usher her into the Lord’s presence, and it was filled with references to the joy she brought them just in that short time of being with her, and how honored they were that God chose them to be her parents.

I was struck at her service by the thought that so often, we work hard to be loved and appreciated, based on our own merit. We believe our value comes from what we have accomplished: how well we do our jobs, whether we are good parents, how much money we make, what our title is, what university degrees we have attained, what awards we have been given, our reputations, our bank accounts, how many people are on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages, what brand of electronic gadgets we have . . . the list goes on and on. But the takeaway from that memorial service for baby Brylen Rasco was this: God loves us and we are loved by others for who we are, not what we do. 

The sanctuary of the church was packed, but not a single person other than those most intimate family members and friends even saw little Brylen alive. And she did not live long enough to establish a personality with character traits nor a life with deeds that would gain her any merit. She was simply loved because God created her; God loved her and valued her enough to send her here even for that short period of time. Nothing else gave her worth. There was nothing Brylen earned or did to deserve the love people felt for her. Yet the sanctuary was filled with people who did love and honor her.

As I sat in the Welcome Home service, I realized that it’s the same for all of us, not just for Brylen. We are all valued creations of God just because He gave us life. And I think surely my friends and family have celebrated my birthday because He created me, not for anything I’ve done ~ because I surely have not brought fame or notoriety to myself through great deeds. And thankfully, I don’t have to! It is enough just to have been given life, and to use that life to celebrate God’s goodness.

Thanks to everyone who celebrated with me and Brylen this week. If you are still trying to earn your way to the approval and love of others, and if you are hoping you can earn God’s love, STOP IT! Don’t go there! It’s a lie, and it absolutely does not make you a person of worth. You already have that, just as Brylen did. Her worth existed without having lifted a finger to do one single thing to deserve it. So does yours!

(click below to read Brylen's obituary)