This week has been a week of birthdays for me and my family. Monday was my one daughter’s birthday, and Thursday was my own. This past Monday, my now 5 year old daughter told me we all had to be nice to her because the day was all about her. She couldn’t get in trouble, and she could wear whatever she wanted. At least, that’s what she told me. In terms of wearing whatever she wanted, I could not care much less. In terms of everything else – where she’s in charge and she should not get in trouble – well, that’s a no and it shows what children miss, but we as adults need to remember: we’re not the center of the universe.
In Himouto! Umaru-chan episode 6, it’s time for Umaru’s birthday. On her birthday, she is much like my 5 year old daughter – and it shows as she spends much of it in her chibi form. She wants everything to be about her, centered on her. When the morning begins and her brother seems to forget about her birthday, she’s a bit upset. She goes off to school, and the world remembers her birthday. She is showered with gifts from her friends. But, she cannot shake the feeling that her brother forgot her birthday. It still upsets her, so she rushes home early to find him preparing a surprise party for her. It’s a cliche and it’s cute, but Umaru’s sole focus on herself continues to be a source of humor, but also of concern. It borders on the worship of self.
What do I mean that Umaru is worshipping herself? Hear me out for a moment. What does Umaru put before everything else? What is at her center? What does she live for? One could argue video games, anime, and cola are what she lives for – but those are merely physical representations of what she wants. She wants to enjoy herself, first and foremost. Keeping herself happy, keeping herself entertained, and getting the best for her is what is at her center. She raised herself up as an idol to worship making love of self into her reason for being. In short, she is her own god.
We do not think of friends, family, or even ourselves as idols – but they can be. Whatever we put first is what we worship and therefore is an idol. This does not merely have to be statues in the traditional sense of the word, but anything we put before our God. As a Christian we worship a jealous God who wants us to worship Him above all else. The Bible condemns idolatry over and over again (here’s an assortment of verses on the matter).
When we think of birthdays, we do think about ourselves, and selfishness comes out in full force. Culturally, it’s expected that we put ourselves at the center on our birthdays. But is this selfishness really the right thing to do? Doesn’t it ignore all those who had an important part in your own birth and life? What about your mother who carried you for 9 months and gave birth to you? The doctor who delivered you? The father who provided protection, comfort, and love to your mother, if he’s doing it right, and 50% of your DNA? What of the nursing staff and many others who participated in protecting you and keeping you safe on that day of your birth? What of the many people involved in raising you into the person you are today?
When I think of my now 5 year old daughter’s birth, I think of this image:
This was taken moments after she was born. While a beautiful moment between me and my little girl, it serves as a reminder of the fragility of our lives as we enter and that many, many are responsible for keeping us safe. It’s also a reminder that our lives themselves are a gift from an Almighty Creator who is far greater and far more powerful than us (Psalm 139:13, Jeremiah 1:5).
On your own birthday, it is okay to be excited, and I’m not saying it’s wrong to accept presents – but do not fall into the habit of self-worship. Remember to be thankful for the life you have. Be thankful for the parents who loved you. Be thankful to the Lord for giving you breath. Be thankful for all those who helped craft you into the person you are today.
I know I was thankful that 33 years ago a Jewish man in his mid-twenties originally from Long Island and his mid-twenties WASP wife from upstate New York decided to start a family which began with me. I am thankful for my life and to many more years where I can spend it with my wife and children.