I turned 27 yesterday. 07-07-07. The birthday I’ve waited my entire life for. Truly.
I’ve always loved 7s. In fact, my soccer number from 6th grade up, 19 seasons total (including school and rec) was 21- 3 7s. Except for my freshman year at Sprayberry- some senior was already 21, so we took a piece of ankle tape, slapped it on my back, and my number became 121. Easy as pie.
That’s fact #1. I love 7s.
Fact #2 is that I love my birthday. A LOT. I just think it is really fun to have an entire day dedicated to you- or ahem….me, as the case may be.
So, obviously, two things I love being combined was, in my personal opinion, heavenly. I had lavish plans for the big day. Who I would eat each meal with, where we would go, etc. Pretty much having the right to plan out everyone’s life for 24 hours- for no other reason than I was born. 27 years ago. On July 7th.
And then a friend of mine, who has asked me to be a bridesmaid, moves her wedding to 7pm on 07-07-07. Meaning I spend my entire birthday I’ve waited my whole life for (known from here on out as “BIWMWLF”) in Athens, away from my family and close hometown friends (close Athens friend will be there- a silver lining), with the focus on SOMEONE ELSE.
Bummer. Big time.
(At this point in the story, I’m sure you’ve thought, “Man, Annie is a pretty selfish person. I’m not sure I like her anymore. I wonder if I want to continue to be friends with her?”. Don’t delete me from your cell phone contact list yet, people. There’s redemption in the end.)
So I pitch a baby fit in my mind every now and again leading up to BIWMWLF and wedding day, combined. My friends sympathize and stroke my selfish heart- not because they are bad or selfish people, but because they know how much I love my birthday- they offer to celebrate with me earlier or later, to do the best they can to honor the fact that I was born. Just giving this baby a pacifier. Whaaaaa (insert baby crying sound effect here).
[And please understand- I LOVE the bride and groom in this story. This has NOTHING to do with my feelings for them. This is only a product of complete selfishness. I was honored to be asked to be in the wedding and I chose to say yes, to stand with them. Even when they moved the wedding, I wanted to be in it. Bride-friend is dear to me. So, continue reading now that we’ve gotten that out of the way.]
Fast forward to yesterday morning- yes, the first hours of BIWMWLF. I get many nice messages from people and yet I start to feel a twinge of guilt because on a day that I should have been focused on bride-friend, all I could think about was ME. Lame, I know. A few of us go to lunch at my fav Athens establishment- Barberito’s- downtown. (Don’t try to pull a Barberito’s on the Eastside, like all locations are equal- that ain’t genuine. It’s downtown Athens or nothing, baby.) Many sweet people in the wedding party pull me aside and whisper, “by the way, happy birthday”, and every time it turns the conviction knife in my heart. I’m grateful they remembered, but I’m saddened that I ever thought so much of myself.
As we stood on the stage, the wedding began, and God began to speak to my heart- about His plans and how NOTHING is accidental. Here I was- standing up and getting to celebrate another birth- the birth of a marriage, a family, a Godly lineage. I start thinking about how really, when push comes to shove, why wouldn’t I want to spend BIWMWLF honoring someone else? I mean, let’s be honest. I’ll have a LOT of birthdays (knock on wood), but these two only make this commitment once. And I got to be a part of that. It was an honor.
Because really, just like birth is a miracle (God knits us together in our mothers’ wombs? Amazing!), so is a marriage relationship- what God does to bring two hearts together and form a family is miraculous. And I was given the chance, actually- I was BLESSED to celebrate two in one.
Then our friend and musician Joel Goddard begins to sing his song “Awesomeness”.
And it feels like my heart will explode
Spilling out love, joy, peace, and contentment
But Lord I’ve got to do something more
So I lift my hands, I lift my voice
I lift my eyes to You Jesus
Unafraid to make some noise
I lift my heart, I lift my best
I lift my life to You, Jesus
In the middle of Your awesomeness
What started out as a BIWMWLF…. turned in to a wedding…. turned in to a worship service.
Instead of it being about ME…. instead of it even being about bride-friend ….it was about Jesus.
And isn’t that the way I should be living my life EVERY day? So I’m going to try, as the title indicated, to be anti-selfish at the ripe old age of 27. Though since it is documented and proven that I’m pretty flawed and sinful, I’ll just say I’m going to attempt to be less selfish. I’ve needed to change, and here is my chance. So I’m taking it. No matter what comes on 07-07-08 or 07-07-09 or 07-07-77, it’s about JESUS and how awesome HE is. Not me. I still will love my birthday (because that’s not bad), but I will love Jesus more- because without Him, who would I be? NOTHING worth celebrating, that’s for sure. It is Jesus in me that is deserving of attention and honor.
It was a lesson I think I’ve waited my whole life for. I guess we could call that LIWMWLF.
P.S- We can still be friends, right? I told you there was redemption in the end. If you deleted my number before you got to the end of the story and now you feel sorry you did, just let me know. I’ll ring ya.