Updated on May 18, 2016
The Year I Got What I Wanted for My Birthday
Who knew not being nice meant I got what I wanted for my birthday and stopped frustrating my family at the same time? Go figure.
I don’t know if it’s a “Nice-Person” trait or just me, but for birthdays (and other prospects of being the center of attention) I hide in the shadows mumbling, “Really, don’t make a fuss. I don’t need anything. Your presence is all the present I need.” I have a drawer full of cards to prove that’s what I said I wanted.
If you are married or related to a “nice” person like that, I am so sorry. (See my earlier post to see that this is a permitted “sorry.”) I see how exasperating “nice” people can be to “not-nice” people (and by “not-nice” I mean direct and honest). We don’t make it easy for you to celebrate us or give us gifts.
I’ve always struggled to know what I want and even more, the courage to simply ask for it. My thinking has been if you ask for what you want and don’t get it, you’re not only disappointed. You’re publicly disappointed.
This year, I gave my family and friends the gift of letting them know what I wanted for my birthday. (Note to newlywed women: Learn this early. Don’t rely on the mystery of “they’ll just know” love. They won’t. They wish they did and are clueless why you wouldn’t want the argyle scarf or weed eater. I have a friend who leaves a jewelry catalog on the kitchen counter with a page casually opened with arrows pointing to a specific necklace or earrings.)
So my daughter was surprised when I answered her “What do you want for your birthday?” with a specific answer. (I even had a coupon for her to help with the cost. Score. And had her brother contribute. Double score.) My husband was grateful when I told him the specific restaurant I wanted to go to. And as my friends asked if they could take me to lunch, instead of my usual hedging, I said an immediate “Yes!”
This Year of Not Being Nice has had unexpected side benefits. I got a great Vera Bradley make-up bag, a dinner at Gianmarco’s and several hilarious lunches with awesome friends. I wish I started being not-nice decades ago. (Go to my reallylatebloomer site to see how I’m playing catch-up on courage.)
I’m also learning to be direct with God (he commands it if that helps motivate you). I love Eugene Peterson’s translation of Matthew 7:7-11 in The Message:
“Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing. You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?”
It’s been a great birthday! I’m beginning to believe “even better” that my loving Heavenly Father will give good things to me when I ask and will not disappoint me (even if what I asked for is delayed or denied).