This is my birthday week. [insert Ricky Martin dance here] And this year, I’m doing this whole birthday thing differently.

I’ve had some spectacular birthdays in the past, but I’ve also had some really disappointing ones. So much so that for most my grown-up years, I’ve dreaded my birthday and downplayed it as much as possible: How many ways am I going to get hurt today? What terrible thing is going to happen today? Can we please just pretend that today’s not even happening – can I just eat some cake and go back to bed?

But back in May, some friends and I went out to celebrate another friend’s birthday. And during that night, we got into a discussion about birthdays. And that discussion changed the way I think.

Birthdays are important because it’s the day we express our thanks – to the person and to God – for the person. If we believe loved ones are a gift from God, that friends love at all times (Prov 17:17), and that the souls of friends can be knitted together (1 Sam 18:1), then it is incredibly fitting to intentionally give praise for loved ones. Even Jesus called his friends “gifts” (Jn 17) and showed them the greatest love by giving His life for them. Birthdays are an opportunity for us to show love, receive love, and give thanks to God for those we love. It’s a day to live up, to enjoy, and to celebrate.

So this year, I invited a bunch of friends over to our house for karaoke. Which is exactly what I wanted to do for my birthday. And I had TWO cakes (I just love cake!) and sang every song I wanted to sing. It was spectacular!

And from here on, I’m thinking about birthdays differently. While I won’t put a lot of expectation on my birthday, I also won’t downplay it or wish it away any more.