I go to a community group. It's a Bible study group with a strong focus on 1) God's Word and 2) being a tight-knit community of brothers and sisters in Christ. I love this group. We were going to get together on the evening of my birthday, and the lady of the leading couple sends me an email that I see in the morning. She wants to make me a cake, and would chocolate be okay? Of course I tell her chocolate would be fabulous and thank you kindly. Such a sweet gesture.
Then, the same lovely lady, a woman I graduated with and admire, sends a notice to the whole group, some twenty people, that it's my birthday and there will be cake.
Now I start to panic. I'm already feeling the spotlight. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a little limelight like anyone else, but I'm fine with it staying at little (and there are some situations [dance circle] in which I'd rather have none). So my little "don't look at me" mind starts to worry that, well, everyone will be looking at me.
And yet, at the same time, I know this is a heartfelt gesture of love toward me. So it's not all bad.
The day proceeds with a couple errands and life is fine. The only pressure I feel is getting everything done and making sure dinner is ready before I have to leave. Nothing abnormal there. There's meat in the fridge, I fix some instant mashed potatoes, eat a little, and head out the door.
I'm hoping for simple and not a lot of attention on me. There will be cake--awesome--for everyone, and I'll get to see these dear people, and we'll hang out and have a good, normal time.
I'd left the house a little later than I'd wanted, so I'm the last to arrive. I open the door, and one of my friends jokingly yells (but not really) "Surprise!" I laugh, wishing my mouth would function so I could say his name in greeting, but no words come out. (Yeah.) I am welcomed and well wished, and find my seat on the comfy couch next to another dear heart and able to see each person I have come to love and am learning to love better. Life is beautiful.
After we read through the book of Hebrews out loud (yes, the entire book--it was great) out comes the cake. I think someone mentions singing the birthday song, and I start my silent, head-shaking protest. You know, the one you mean, but don't, but really do? Well, Jaimie asks me if I really don't want everyone to sing the song, and I pivot my hand like a see-saw. I don't want to offend, and I know as a birthday well-wisher how fun it is to sing to the birthday guy or gal, but could it just not be about me? Or could I go into another room? Or better yet, let's not and say we did.
Well, as things are wont to do, delays happen. I think I've escaped and before the cake is cut I get a chance to get up from the couch and make sure I see it. Chocolate cake, a solid white icing background, and green-blue lettering of "Happy Birthday Dotty". (Did anyone get a picture? Jaimie, it was beautiful.)
Here, my memory fades. I don't remember why I didn't sit right back down. I don't think the cake was cut right then, either. I think there was still delay, then the song is brought up again. Now that I'm standing and it seems that all eyes are looking in the cake's and my direction, I would like to just hide for a minute. Yes, for some reason standing is worse. I'm too tall for all eyes on me when I'm standing.
Someone starts the song. At the time I could have pointed out the guilty party. Now I'm not sure who it was. Then the little living room rings with happy voices singing happy birthday to me.
My first reaction? I turn around and almost head into the bathroom to hide. I stop and turn back around because I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. I step toward the couch thinking that if I sit down at least that will be better. But I can't get there easily, and to get there anyway would make further scene, and I would likely trip and fall...obviously not preferred. So I stand, and try to look around the room (I think) at the smiling faces of friends who love me. I don't know how it's possible to stand six feet tall and will oneself to shrink without moving, but I did it. I'm grinning, and I mean it, but I'm also embarrassed a little. In the middle of the song, one friend sings, sings that my face is turning red. I can believe it.
But I guess that's par for the course. The song over, my seat reclaimed, the cake cut and shared (yummy), life is back to normal in my beautiful little community.
There truly are worse things than being surrounded by delight and love expressed. And I'm glad I don't have to hide from these things. I'm glad that these friends see me, know me, love me, and, yes, tease me. They've seen me weep; they've seen joy bubble out of me. They've seen the average days, too. They're there. And I really couldn't ask for more.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.I see this in our group, and I'm grateful for it. Thank you, all, for how you love me.