After reading the hundreds of birthday wishes you guys left on my Facebook wall last week in honor of my fifty-fifth birthday, I felt very much like George Bailey at the end of the Christmas classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Thanks you guys for taking the time to stop by my page to post succinct “happy birthday” greetings, animated GIFs, videos, artwork, and a few pictures from back in the day when I had a much smaller waist and a lot more hair.
(Yes, fifty-fifth. It’s shocking to me, too. When I get a good picture taken that’s been sufficiently Photoshopped, I’ll show you what fifty-five years of living looks like.)
I know this particular Facebook tradition isn’t unique to me. Everybody on Facebook experiences something similar. But what makes my experience unique is that no one else in the world has the exact same mix of friends that I do. Each of you brings something no one else can to the party: you.
As I looked at the pictures of all your smiling faces in a seeming endless stream on my wall, I couldn’t help but notice that you guys are quite the motley crew. Don’t believe me? Just scroll through my Friends list.
In matters of faith, you guys are all over the map: Christian Jewish, Muslim, Agnostic, a few Nones (Atheists), and there’s even a couple of Buddhists in the mix.
You’re nurses, doctors, interior designers, teachers, preachers, reporters, laborers, musicians, lawyers, actors, coaches, and a reformed “playa” or two. I’m proud to know carpenters, bartenders, a kayak/canoe expert, sommeliers, and some very talented chefs. You’re self-professed good ol’ boys, misfits, debutantes, ninjas, yoga masters, and of course the literati.
Suffice it to say, you’re all over the political spectrum . . . and that’s all I’ll say about that.
Some of you are retiring from careers and others are starting theirs. You guys are marrieds with children, married empty nesters; there’s parents of fur babies, singles, single parents with kids, and kids whose parents are no longer with us. And yes, for the record, a couple of firemen and former and current law enforcement officers round out the list.
Part of my joy comes from learning what makes you guys tick and how you’ve come to be the people you are. Know that with each and every relationship, whether you knew me before I was born or we still have yet to meet in person, you inspire me.
I mean, come on! We’ve laughed, cried, sweat our balls off together in costumes—separate costumes. We’ve traveled the world and been roommates. More of you than you’d ever imagine have pulled me back from the brink of despair, others have lent me not a, but two hands in helping to make my dreams a reality.
You’ve loved me when I didn’t feel lovable; not to mention the times when I’ve behaved in ways that run counter to what love is.
You ladies and gentlemen have mastered the art of coaxing me out of my shell, as well as helped me slow my roll when need be. (No sharing stories in the Comments section, thank you.)
But each one of you has been the unwitting instruments of God’s provision, grace, and mercy in my life. Some of you been used by Him to burnish my jagged edges and others have more than once been a safe place to land.
You’ve opened your doors and your hearts, and been living examples of how beautiful life can be when you flow with the go.
I could go on and on, but I think you’re getting the message. No matter how often or seldom we’re in contact, my heart is brimming with gratitude for you enriching my life with the gift of your friendship.
May God bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you.
(Hey, one more thing. Could you say a prayer that He help me to share with others what you’ve given to me? Your love. Thanks.)