How do you feel about celebrating your birthday? Unlike most women my age, it’s not the number that bothers me, but the decision-making: people asking what I want to do, where I want to eat and what I’d like as a gift. Those should be good things, but deep down inside, I can’t help but think, “If you knew me well enough, you wouldn’t need to ask me.”
My teenage daughter even asked me, “Mom, why aren’t birthdays as big of a deal when you’re older?” I tried to explain that as a parent, it’s part of my privilege to help her celebrate her birthday. But once you’re older, no-one is obligated to throw me a party. Not to mention most of us have to work on our birthdays, so the days of bounce houses, parties and confetti sail off into the distant past.
Then there’s the onslaught of Facebook and social media well-wishers. And it seems that no matter how many sweet messages I receive, I always manage to think, “Now why didn’t I hear from so and so?”
I can’t help but think about friendship on my birthday. Those I’m grateful for. Friends with whom I’ve grown apart from. And some that are still a little bit sticky.
While friendships, like birthdays, make become trickier as we get older, they’re no less important.
Allow me to share a few reflections on why I believe this to still be true:
- We all need someone to hold us up.
Regardless of what stage of ‘adulting’ you find yourself in, it helps to have someone to go through it with. Whether it’s to have fun together on that rare night the kids are with your parents or to call and cry over how things just don’t seem to be going your way, it’s important to feel known.
- Social Media isn’t all bad.
Social media can be a complete time-suck; you’ll find no argument from me there. But as someone who works online, I’ve also found some of the most genuine and caring friends through my various social media channels. Typically it’s as a result of a mutual friend or common interest, but it’s still someone I wouldn’t have met if not for the online community. You don’t need to eliminate social media from your life, but remember, it’s also not a substitute for face-to-face relationships either.
- If Jesus needed friends, so do we.
Jesus surrounded himself with friends (aka disciples) who he both taught and learned from. A pastor once told me, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” While we should by no means keep ourselves in a bubble, it’s important to have a core group of women who you can trust with the tiniest of details about your life, and vice versa. These are the people who can both keep you accountable and call you out when they see you going down a shady path, but also cheer you up and make you laugh without even saying a word.
Trust me, don’t wait until your next birthday to get together with a girlfriend, even if just via FaceTime. Evaluate the adult friendships you have. Take an honest look at whether or not you’re giving them just them too much value, not enough or just the right amount. As someone who recently had the privilege of doing just that, I can tell you I felt filled as a result.