I am one that generally dreads my birthday. It is a day that I don't look forward to and every year it comes around like clock work. No specific event or traumatic experience has ever given me cause to loathe my birthday. The only reason that I can explain why I don't like my birthday is because it is a guaranteed day that on the mental battle grounds, I become extremely vulnerable to the workings of the adversary. I realize that I put myself in this situation and I need to knock it off, but what a lot of people don't know about me is that for most of my life, I fight the battle of loneliness. My eyes have been opened that we all face our own demons and battles that we struggle to over come every day of our lives and one of mine is an overwhelming feeling of not belonging and not feeling accepted.
Shocking, right? I realize that you are probably thinking of me in the contexts that I am in all the time with my family, friends, my calling and my job and this would seem to be an exact opposite of who I am. At this point in my life, most of the time you are right. But I still have my down days and I still have a birthday that I really struggle with this ridiculous belief within me. I know, it's not healthy, and I promise I work on it all the time. And I hope that there is a part of you that is reading this that is empathetic to where I am coming from. Sometimes I am grateful for these moments because they humble me and it forces me to turn more to the Savior and trust in the healing powers of the Atonement.
This year on my birthday, I plead in my prayers that I desired a gift from God. To have a day to be able to see and recognize God's love for me to help me though my struggles. Please open my eyes to recognize God's hand, please open my ears to hear his word and please open my heart to be able to recognize ALL of the blessings that he gives to just me.
I testify that God blessed me with what I asked for by sending me angels with messages of love.
We have a tradition at our birthday dinners that a friend taught me that I try to instigate at any birthday dinners I attend. Everyone around the table says what they love most about that person. For most people, it is hard to be adored and loved and I have seen napkins cover faces. But I have also seen and felt the Spirit come strongly into a crowded restaurant when love is being spoken there.
This last year, when I have attended other's birthday dinners, I have had to write down what I loved about that person because my mind is stressed and many times I would forget what I wanted to say. Sometimes, I feel that I can express my feelings more eloquently in writing than I can in word. So, I started to give to my friends an "Ode to..." letter of why I loved them. I absolutely love writing these letters and I love giving them in written form the things I love about them so that they never forget the truthfulness of their character and who they are and what we express that we love about them that evening. I usually go last because I am the only one that writes a letter and others dislike following my ode to eulogies.
For my birthday dinner this year, I was taken back that for the birthday tradition, I had multiple letters read aloud that were Ode to Suzanne. As I sat and listened a scripture came to mind when I thought about the blessings I had asked for earlier that day. In Doctrine & Covenants 84:88 it says:
"And whoso recieveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up."
I am so grateful for the abundant love that was an answer to my prayers. Words that were spoken and read were like scripture to me and I felt that not only were my friends expressing their love, but were also mouth pieces and representing angels of a Father in Heaven who is very mindful of me. One of my friends (that had not been to one of our birthday dinners before) was crying and said it felt like a testimony meeting. Ha! I love it!
I love those women with all of my heart. I love that we are there to lift each other, to help each other and to support each other. I know they too are fighting their own battles and I try my best to return their love and support. These letters were absolutely my favorite part of my birthday. They are holy to me and even better is that I am so blessed in my life with these holy women and I honor them with much gratitude and sacredness.
Thank you, for being an answer to my prayers!