Ok, honesty hour: I haven’t given very much thought into this endeavor. 30 days of celebration.
Every day of November will bring thoughts on the topic, but I haven’t thought out each post or planned an order. Instead, my fingers type these words as my clouded mind tries to keep up. I write today for me, and although I hope you read my words this next month, most of them will be written for completely selfish reasons.
I need celebration. I need gratitude. I need it all so badly. And so I write.
I don’t sit down today out of any sort of abundance. My cupeth does not overflow. Instead, my head hurts. It’s hard to keep up with the life around me. Anxiety and doubt have been my response to pretty much everything for months. I feel like a sojourner through a harsh desert, desperate for water.
Celebration is that water.
It’s crazy how a critical heart seeps its way into my life. I am often described as a “happy” person, always positive and cheerful. My whole life people have used those words to describe me, but there are so many days that those very words eat me alive. “What if they really knew what was in my mind?” Because I’m tellin you, folks, it is often not a pretty place.
And so today I take my very first sip of water, in what I pray will be a refreshing month.
I think I’ve always viewed celebration as optional in the life of a Christian. Some Christians celebrate things, some don’t. But I am learning that lack of celebration and gratitude is actually a deep form of hideous pride. Who am I? Who am I to tell God that He created a single thing wrong? Who am I to critique the world I was given, the life I was given?
I used to have this idea that I deserved what I had. I think we all do, growing up. Entitlement: the thief of gratitude. This last summer, my sense of entitlement became a beast that began to eat me alive. I distinctly remember the moment I pleaded with God to be free from it. After graduating college, I faced some rejection, had some setbacks, and I got mad at God. How dare He? Isn’t this my life?
And I let it just sit there for months, waiting for God to give me what I surely deserved. Until one day I woke up and realized that I was miserable as all get-out. Nothing would be good enough for me. Nothing would satisfy me. Nothing. I walked around like ticking time bomb, and it took very little to set me off, to make me mad at God for the life I had.
But there came a moment what it hit me like a sack of flour, doubled me over. On my knees. “Jesus, what is wrong with me? Why is everything a disappointment? People expect me to be this optimistic person, but if they could only see my heart for one moment. I don’t know what to say but change me. Change my mind. Take away my entitlement.”
I thought I could keep criticism as a pet. I thought I could keep it under control. I mean, surely I am entitled to my own opinions, aren’t I? Everyone seems to say so. Everywhere you look, that’s all you see: people and their opinions. And I had a few of my own: I should have gotten that job. He should like me back. I should have been made different. I deserve a more clean-cut world to live in.
And I know I don’t have to tell you this, but that kind of thinking eats a person alive. Bob Goff, in his book “Love Does”, describes lack of gratitude as “seeing something really beautiful as just normal”. What a delightfully plain statement for such a deep reality.
I don’t want to pass over beauty as though I deserve it, as though the intricacies of this gorgeous world should be regarded as nothing. Or not enough. I am learning that celebration springs forth from an earthy, solid realization that nothing we have is earned. What single thing did you or I do to deserve our gift of life? Anyone who doesn’t see life as a gift doesn’t look very closely at its humble beginnings. Every breath, every blink of the eye, every headache, every heartbreak, every trauma. None of it deserved, all of it given.
The world tells us daily that we own our lives, and that way of thinking has held me captive for so many seasons. What a change it is when we realize that our lives are not our own, that we don’t have to flounder around trying to make something of them! When I realize that I deserve the worst of deaths, that I did nothing to give myself life, suddenly celebration is the only logical response. I would be nothing without the God who gave it all to me.
And that’s what this month is about, reminding myself of these things. The Bible says to think about what is lovely and admirable and worthy of praise. I use to read those words as nice advice, but now I know that they are a slap in the face of my pride. A reality check. Who am I to spend a single moment critiquing the God who made it all?
So let’s lay down our pride for a change, yeah? I’m ready for some refreshment, for some healing to my bones. Settle down with me this month. Let’s see it all differently.
I know I need to.