The Birthday List.
Every year on my best friend’s birthday, we celebrate together, but most importantly we make the LISTs.
First, we make a list of every good thing that happened in the past year and talk about it.
We relive the good moments to secure the memories in our ongoing life stories.
The second list we make is a list of where we want to go, what things we would like to see happen.
It is a manifesto. We call it The Birthday List.
It started the year she and I walked away from our respective marriages. We were both so miserable that we could barely function. Other tragedies had occurred too that added to the breakdown, but that is another story. We were both just broken as people. Exhausted, sad, traumatized, and then we both got up and did something about it.
Somehow, we got the courage to change the direction of our lives.
On her birthday that Fall, we made the first list.
The Birthday List is a way to give our lives direction.
We wrote down our wishes and dreams for our children, our jobs, ourselves, and our families.
Many joyful moments came from discussing all the good things, the blessings that still remained in our lives and those to come. Financially strapped, divorcing, and emotionally drained, it seemed out of reach at the time to think things would be so different, but somehow our outlook improved when we wrote down what we would like to see happen.
With that first list, we wanted to believe God had our best interests at heart.
It was an act of faith.
The physical writing of the list opened our eyes to see what we truly wanted out of our lives.
Writing it down forced us to be specific. Our merry mood made it positive.
Specific and positive. A good start for a good birthday list.
Just a few months later, we saw some of those things happen that we had written down. After one year, our lives improved in small but noticeable ways. We were both happier and better off by the time her birthday rolled around again.
The list fostered trust in God, because we could see the results of prayer in our own lives when some of the positive things we had written down began to happen.
The next year on her birthday, we took it a step further. We decided to write down every good dream and wish that we had dreamed throughout our lives.
We aimed high.
What are your huge dreams? What would you want for your family? Your kids? What wonderful things would you pray if you knew they would happen? What friend would you pray for?
We were so encouraged by the changes in our lives that we wanted to be bolder in our list.
The true desires of our hearts in print were epic in proportion to where we were at that moment in time.
But we dared to pray for our greatest hopes and dreams.
We discussed our prayers for our own health and mental well-being. We asked for love and guidance and prayed over our loved ones. I remember writing the list and thinking, “What if these things really happened?”
Every time we got together we felt younger, more together, happy.
We made sure the lists were optimistic, loving, confident outcomes. That the things we asked for were not selfish or unkind. We laughed and cried as we added to the lists over our glasses of wine.
A year later so much of what we had written down had happened that we did it again.
We recorded the things we were thankful for first. We included every good thing that had happened that we could think of and thanked God for the answers.
As before, we wrote down our hopes and dreams for the coming year.
Then, we added a caveat to the lists.
The Birthday Lists changed our lives, so for the next few years, on her birthday, we made the lists.
One year we each made a list of the attributes of the person we would enjoy being with. Since we were both single and had been for a few years, we had really thought about it a lot.
From “likes family stuff “to “handy” as in handyman type things, we wrote it down. We added “doesn’t hit on my friends and faithful.” Obviously, experience had given us a lot of ideas for the list.
Other items were “has a job, likes me, and is attracted to me.” Yikes, truth bombs planted in the form of list making.
We added “likes to hang out with our friends sometimes.” You may laugh, but by that point we had seen it all and were all about specifics. If you don’t know what you want, how will you know when he or she comes along?
Check out my post Top 5 Steps to Better Dating to see some of the things you can put on your relationship list.
As a result of those lists of prayers, wishes, and dreams, our hopes have become realities.
We both learned to speak up and stand our ground, and to hold out for the real thing. We learned to take care of ourselves and to not give into despair.
I became a writer, and she became accredited in her job.
Many broken personal relationships were restored, and we both found love and got married!
Both of us are happily married now and have grandchildren. It is beyond description how I feel about being happily married and writing after all the trauma in my life. I am so thankful! To see my friend happy is even more amazing.
We are both living much more fulfilling lives. She will tell you that her trip to Ireland with her husband was one of the most beautiful of her life. We love having positive things to talk about.
We learned so much about money and have had many blessings in that area.
In the last few years, we have both redone our homes into more beautiful places to live and love, and all those fervent private prayers over our children have come to fruition, some just recently.
Most of all, we learned to laugh again.
I am reminded of the adage, “You have not, because you ask not.”
Ask for what you want in prayer and in writing.
Put a date on the list, so years from now when you come across it you will celebrate all over again.
Choose your wants wisely, and be careful what you ask for, because you may get it.
You may wonder whether we still make these lists? We do! I have one prayer that I have not seen answered yet, but I believe in God’s goodness, so every year I put it on The Birthday List.
Barefoot and writing,