This past weekend I participated in a Race Relations conference at our church. The theme of the gathering was understanding the African American experience. One of the focal points of the meeting was to watch a provocative documentary entitled “13th” which you can view on Netflix. (I would encourage you to watch this film and would be happy to hear your feedback.) Walking away from this weekend, I was pondering what my role should be in improving race relations in our country.
Last night, I had a dream in which I was seated around a table with people from the conference. Some were African American and others were Caucasian. The topic of conversation was how we could think of ways to honor one another on our birthdays. Everyone in the dream was so joyful in thinking of ways to be a blessing to one another. I awoke from the dream and began to journal what I experienced as well as talk to the Lord about the significance of the dream.
In the midst of my journaling, a simple, pure and innocent thought gracefully floated up from my heart to my head. “Treat each other like it’s their birthday, every day.” I felt a sense of joyful delight in this thought and wondered if it was truly original or something others had pondered before. So I googled those exact words.
The first result that appeared in my search was a delightful article written by Joe Black way, way, back in the year 2015. In this article, Joe describes the daily habit of his granddaughter who nominates a different person in their family each day to have a birthday. In Joe’s own words, “I’m not talking about gift giving or cakes with candles. I’m talking about doing all you can to make them feel special that day. To demonstrate unconditional love on a daily basis.” I reached out to Mr. Black to express my gratitude for this article and learned that his now five-year-old granddaughter is still keeping up this tradition to this day. How wonderful.
I also discovered that chapter 3 of the Kid President’s book, Kid President’s Guide to Being Awesome, is entitled, “Treat Everybody Like It’s Their Birthday.” I have now added this book to my reading list and look forward to enjoying it together with my family. I came to realize that the ones who enjoy birthdays the most are children. Wouldn’t it be like our Lord to teach us through the modeling of children to love one another? It was Jesus who said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)
It became obvious that my thought of treating people as if it were their birthday was by no means original. In fact, it may have a biblical foundation. Paul wrote to the church in Rome, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10) I really enjoy how the Holman Christian Standard Bible expresses this truth, “Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor.”
Now I do not think Paul had a birthday cake and candles in mind when he penned these words, but he probably did share the sentiment of Mr. Black, “demonstrate unconditional love on a daily basis”. I may not be able to solve race relations, cure the injustices of this world or bring about world peace. But I can make a contribution to these efforts by simply treating people I interact with on a daily basis as if it were their birthday. I encourage you to give it a try.
What do you think? How could this world change if our motto became, “Treat Everyone Like It’s Their Birthday”?
P.S. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!