Happy Birthday, Caleb

Tomorrow is my birthday, and my Facebook wall will be inundated with posts from friends, some long and heartfelt, some merely a simple but well meant (if not eloquent) “happy birthday.”

So, that got me wondering, what would I say to myself if I was just another person posting on my Facebook wall for my birthday? Below is my attempt to put down my thoughts to myself.


 

Caleb,

Tomorrow is your birthday. You’re turning 23. I know you’re not looking forward to it; in fact, you’re dreading it. In the past you’ve always looked forward to your birthdays, even as each year made it less and less inherently special. But it’s been a tough year for you, a very tough year. Probably the toughest year of your life so far. You have doubted yourself and your abilities, you’ve doubted others, and you’ve sometimes had to keep going with nothing but your desire not to give up completely keeping you moving forward. Given all that, it’s not wonder the idea of your birthday makes you feel like you’re getting older. No, you’re not old, but you are getting older. I know you find yourself questioning, wondering, that maybe things won’t work out the way you hope.

But, buddy, here’s something you really need to remember: You don’t know the future. Oh, I know you think you do. You’ve thought to yourself, “This isn’t going to end well. Something’s going to go wrong. Maybe everything will go wrong, and it’ll all end in failure,” but that’s not the future. That’s fear. Just take a step back a second; you couldn’t have possibly predicted everything that’s happened in the past year, or the past 5 years, could you have? And just look how much good has happened to you!  Bad, too, yes, there’s always that. But does the bad really outweigh the good?

You don’t know the future. You’re only afraid that your fears will be realized. You’re tempted to give up based on what you’re afraid will happen. That’s wrong. That’s dead wrong.

But tomorrow, every note, every call, every spoken word, every letter, every Facebook post by friends, relatives, and even those short, bland, obligatory “happy birthday” posts from people who are all but strangers to you is a reason to look forward to the future. Every person in your life who takes the time out of their day, even a simple 30 seconds, to wish you well on this one day of the year, is someone who cares about you in some way. Maybe for some it’s not much, but you know for a fact that many of them love you and honestly wish you well. And those kids and that family that has been so excited to be able to celebrate your birthday with you because you are special to them, they are worth more than you can possibly imagine. They are a reason for the future. All of them are.

Stop dreading the future because it’s full of fear-inducing uncertainties, and start counting the blessings you have right now. Starting with every single “Happy Birthday” you receive tomorrow, starting with this one:

Happy Birthday, Caleb. You are loved.

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