I'm 51 today. Got hit between the eyes with a quote from Oscar Romero:
Among the events of this week, which, of course, are many, one stands out for me with a sense of gratitude, the celebration of my birthday, through which I have understood once again that my life doesn't belong to me, but to all of you. August 21, 1977
I am a Baby Boomer. Even when my thoughts are lofty, my emotional default is, "All about me." Baby Boomers tend to value others in terms of their usefulness to our perceived needs. We do well with "support groups" but aren't very good about maintaining families, for example. When Romero says, "my life belongs to all of you," a Boomer resists. "That's soooooo codependent. Such enmeshment issues." We manage to define sacrificial commitment as dysfunction, because both sacrifice and commitment can diminish "me."
But we are wrong, from God's point of view. How fatal that our saying, "He thinks he's God's gift to (women, art, basketball, etc.)" is a put down. "God's gift" is exactly how Romero sees himself, and the potential he sees in every birth. Not an inflated ego, but a God-given array of gifts and flaws that meet others' needs and draw out their strengths. But to find that truth we have to commit to others long enough to let them shake us, hold us up to the light, unwrap and actually use us like a present placed in their hands by God. (Jesus warned about "giving pearls to pigs," so there is a time to say, "Hey, the gift is rejected and needs to go where it will be cherished and used for its God-given purpose." What I'm saying is that my generation yells "Pig!" much too soon in most cases.)
I don't have a happy, perky illustration with which to wrap this up. Romero was assassinated in 1980, and nobody's ever been brought to earthly justice for it. Yet his witness and his words continue to inspire, challenge and even change people in El Salvador and around the world. A "gift that keeps on giving?"
On this birthday, I find myself flirting with the sweet-sounding voice that says, "You could use your gifts so wonderfully if you could just have x, get away from y, and do something about z." To which Romero almost certainly would say, "No, God made you the gift of which x, y and z are in need. Happy birthday to you."