My birthday was on a Wednesday this year. Mid-week it was, so off to work I went; just another day at the office, the usual routine. That was my attitude. I should say, that was my chosen attitude.
There was an envelope sitting on my desk. I knew it was the office birthday card, in which all my colleagues write a brief birthday greeting. “Ah, the birthday card,” I thought, “the special birthday card that everyone gets. That’s nice.”
A few minutes later my wife, Jean, called. “Good Morning. And Happy Birthday.”
“Thanks,” I said, “How did you sleep?” Notice the deft change of subject. And through the day I went. I did journal a few lines, reflecting on the day, but mostly I said nothing. Asked for nothing, expected nothing. This wasn’t hard for me.
That night, Jean made a favorite meal and we chatted about the day. After dinner, I started getting calls from my kids. A little unusual, but nice. I don’t get offended if people forget; I have trouble remembering birthdays, too. Then another call. This son outed that there had been a reminder email sent by Jean regarding my birthday. “Oh, now I get it,” I said to him and we laughed. To be fair, Jean sends out regular, non-pressuring updates about birthdays, anniversaries, and special needs for the whole family. It is a way to keep us all together and it’s a good thing. And so the spirit of the calls was great; they were glad to be reminded, glad to remember, and glad to call.
Then another son called. Then a daughter, and so on.
But I noticed something. On each call, I spent a portion of energy trying to not be blessed. Not because I thought my kids were insincere. No, my resistance was about my discomfort in being loved; I resist blessing because I am ashamed of my need for it. I am strangely at odds with what I most need.
This is like a sailboat declining the wind. I am shaped for love to move me. I am only my true self when running before love’s breeze. But I forfeit, turn out of the wind, drop anchor, and hide in a cove somewhere. My sails hanging, I am safe but dead in the water.
Wow. I actually spend energy trying not to be blessed. I do this with God, too (in fact, all my resistance is about God). I want to be loved and secretly look for it, but resist when it comes. I spend a portion of my moment-by-moment energy trying not to experience His love. I rebel at being needy; I want to make it on my own.
So, if I am this way when receiving a birthday greeting, what will I do on That Day when greeted by the voice of the Archangel? Will I try to hush that Shout? Will I shrug off the sound of that Trumpet? Will I refuse to rise?
Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. – 1 Corinthians 15:51-52
No, I won’t. I don’t believe even my resistance is that strong. The Bible teaches that in a twinkling, I will be changed. In the meantime, I can practice the change to come. I can start by letting loving calls get into me. I won’t resist Blessing anymore. I won’t use energy against it; I will get energy from it. I will lean into that wind and run on the water before it.
Roger Edwards joined The Barnabas Center in 1991. He works with both with individuals and couples, helping people confess their need and embrace their available choices to lead healthier lives. Roger also teaches and leads discussion groups and retreats applying the Gospel to everyday life. He is a licensed professional counselor (LPC), holds a master’s degree in biblical counseling from Grace Theological Seminary in Indiana and earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He is married to Jean and they have seven children and nine grandchildren.