A Letter to My Neice on Her First Birthday

baby annie

Dear Annie,

Today, you woke up to find your house filled with cake, balloons, and presents. Grandma and Grandpa are there, too, having driven 12 hours just to see you. Mommy dressed you in a new shirt and Daddy hung pink and purple decorations.

Today, we celebrate the day you were born.

It’s also a day to remember, and to feel deeply, that you are wanted. It’s one day of the year that says directly to you, “You, Annie Grace, are invited into life.”

It may not seem important now. All this inviting stuff. I mean, presents are way more exciting, right? But someday, it will be important for you to know, to remember, to celebrate at least once a year, that you belong here. In this world. At this time and place.

As you get older, get more accustomed to this thing we call “life,” you’ll discover our culture isn’t one of inclusion. Blame it on American individualism or simply on poor manners. Whatever the source, we aren’t a culture known for welcoming others into our life. It’s seen in the postage-stamp yards that surround the houses of suburbia. It’s why people in populous cities experience deep loneliness. And it’s why even churches have a hard time opening their doors to the unfamiliar and the strange.

But your experience of “un-belonging” will be much more personal. You’ll feel it be the day you’re picked last to play on a dodge ball team in gym class. You’ll experience it when when a girlfriend betrays you and talks behind your back. And again when a coworker tells you that your work isn’t good enough or when you are losing hope, waiting for Mr. Right.

On those days, in those moments, it will be so easy to think that the world does not want you. That you don’t belong in this crazy place filled with disappointment, hurt and fatigue.

Which is why today is so incredibly important. And every birthday to come. And not for the presents and the balloons and the parties. And not for even “turning another year older.” Your birthday is important because it’s a day for you to remember—and for those in your life to affirm—that God chose you. Of the billion other people He could have created, God decided to invite you into life, to be conceived, to be born. To show up.

And I, for one, am so glad you’re here.

This post was inspired, in part, by Emily Freeman’s wise words on Chatting at the Sky:

You have been given your life, what you hold in your hands, the ground beneath your feet. You have been asked to show up. How do I know? Because you were born. Show up as you are, not as you think you ought to be.Don’t run from your calling, no matter what it is….There isn’t one great thing you were made to do. There is one great God you were made to glorify….Throughout your life, you’ll do that in a million little ways.