So I remember this cassette tape recording that our family had. It was me singing when I was 2 or 3 . I’m not sure the tape still exists, but I remember listening to it later in life (well, my teens years), and it was hilarious (and stinkin’ awesome)! It was me singing Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration.” Today I can’t help but think of that cassette tape when I hear that groovy song.
I struggle with celebration. It’s not that I’m a masochist, I am just reserved and feel guilty when good things happen to me. As I look back at my life, and not just the last two years, I have had one of the most privileged, dynamic, adventurous, crazy, awesome, humbling & blessed lives of anyone I know. The opportunities, the material, familial, situational and all other -ials I’ve walked with and through are what some literally would die to have or experience.
Yet I feel guilty about it. Some might say it’s because of Christianity has suppressed joy in me. But I really don’t think so. If you ask my folks and family who knew me before I “died with Christ & began living in him” (Gal. 2:20), I’ve always been a guilty person. I was never grounded in my life. I punished myself. In my defense against being proud or arrogant, I’ degraded myself and all that’s gone on through, for, in or by me. I give all the glory to God, but I take no credit for what I did/do – because without Him, I’m nothing (John 15:5, Mt. 19:26, Gal. 2:20, Ps. 115:1, 2 Cor. 2:5 – at least those are the passages that I think of off the top of my head). Yet I’m told that God doesn’t want us to look at it that way. And I agree, but I don’t know how.
After a ridiculous, undeserved, over-successful, positive, encouraging week including numerous events and even a promised promotion, I was depressed. Bed at 8. Couldn’t get up. Lethargic. Thankfully I didn’t get mad at myself for being pathetic; I pursued my tasks with diligence. However, I wouldn’t allow myself to be happy. I don’t know how to celebrate. In this instance is was both an individual and team celebration that was worth having. But I just couldn’t muster it and don’t feel like I should. Even if I tried, I don’t know if I’d know how. In some ways I can pat others on the back, but not myself. In fact, I don’t think I pat them on the back too well, either.
Humility I now define, thanks to Richard Foster, as being truly honest with gifts, blessings, successes, weaknesses, failures and the like. But so often in my attempt to be humble, like so many others, I end up depressed. It’s not that I need to have some self-worth; I know God has gifted me and I’m “good” at most all of what I do. I just don’t know how to celebrate, or receive blessing. I defer it. Or refute it.
I carried with me for too long (and still struggle if I’m honest with myself) the lack of appreciation that was shown me by service I carried out for years. I poured my life into ministry for Jesus and His church, yet I felt ignored. And when I was saddened (and even angry) by it, I was told and began to think of the fact that I wouldn’t have even liked it had I been appreciated, recognized and the like. I felt both respected and yet asked not to let the door hit me on the way out. Is it because I can’t celebrate? Good times.
So as I think about all this, my soul says, “Come on!” Never thought of Kool and the Gang’s chorus with this perspective. Celebrate . . . good times (eye roll) … Come on! In life, celebration is a good thing when celebrated in the right way for the right reasons. Glory can be given fully to God while we are proud of our accomplishments or situations. But I confess I have no clue how to do it.
In college I took this course on Asian religions taught by this little Buddhist lady. I read a quote then that I took to be too meaningful in my life. It encouraged me in my non-celebratory nature. Confucius once said something like, “Student, student; child, child; teacher, teacher.” It implied simply that what you are, be. And don’t expect praise for being a good student because you are expected to be one! Same goes for teachers and children and more. In our reward-based (entitled) culture, I guess I resist the demand for celebration with every little thing. I know celebration is important, but often times I see people celebrate every little thing instead of particularly celebration-worthy events. Do you see the paradox and struggle?
I think I’ve fully exhausted my brain on this. I don’t know where to go from here. Maybe I’ve actually tapped out my brain for the moment. I know I need to learn this. I have hope that I can. But “Come on, already!”
Maybe I should celebrate that I posted this entry. Hmmm….