This year I’ve been thinking through spiritual disciplines, which are simply ways to keep God forefront in my mind and heart in a world that doesn’t make that easy. Things like prayer, hospitality, journaling, retreats, worship, etc.
Last night I was looking through my new favorite book, which has all kinds of disciplines in it. Included in this book is a quiz to help a person decide what disciplines might best fit with what God is doing with her now–and because of that I’ve been focusing on prayer, since God is clearly teaching me more about prayer right now.
But last night I was feeling heavy and unsettled. I’m falling into old patterns. I’m trying to organize my space and time and life so I honor God, hoping to grow, trying to get some things in order as I enter a new stage in my life. Last week I finished teaching kids who aren’t mine. This year most of my kids will fly the coop. Most of the excuses I have for not pursuing God as I should are leaving me. It’s time to get serious about this.
However, I’ve been failing at some things. Not praying like I want to pray. Not studying like I want to study. Anyway, I opened my book and started at the beginning. The book has disciplines grouped, and the first grouping is worship. It’s one I’ve barely looked at. So, I looked at it. One of the first disciplines I saw was celebration.
Ouch. Celebration. I struggle with this, both spiritually and otherwise. Years ago, I would make a big deal out of holidays, birthdays, festivals. But when my husband lost his job eight years ago and we fell back below the poverty level after years of being above it, I stopped with many of those things. Money was an issue, and we were all frustrated with life, and I didn’t have the energy for all of it. In survival mode, I didn’t leave room for celebration.
Now I belong to a church that pay attention to the church calendar, so there are seasons where we celebrate, like Easter, and seasons where we wait, like Advent and Lent, and again, it seems difficult. I struggle to decide how to implement these in my family. They’ve grown accustomed to not celebrating, so they roll their eyes when I try. We’ve become very somber and cynical, and I think it has everything to do with us not celebrating. Not celebrating God as an act of worship–praise–and not celebrating the rhythms God has put in the world, like seasons and birthdays and anniversaries.
Last week in a post I mentioned I was trying to look at goals in a new way. Instead of simply writing a goal for my life and then failing, I am trying to decide why I’m failing. And so I looked at celebration, which used to be part of my life, and tried to figure out what had changed.
First, my family is older. They simply don’t get excited about things. If need be, I can celebrate alone. And eventually, if I can restore some lost traditions and create some new, they’ll get on board. Especially birthdays–I doubt any of them will actually turn down the chance to be king for a day.
Part of it is indecision. I freeze. Should I get a gift? Make a meal? What should I do to celebrate Advent, given the internet has five million awesome ideas? How can we add new traditions to Easter to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection? How can I celebrate God on a daily basis through praise? Singing? Writing? Art?
Being the kind of person who overthinks everything, all those questions make me crazy. And at this moment, I’m not sure how to overcome this one. But I’m going to try.
Finally, I’m tired. I just had a physical, so I know I’m healthy. I’m a type one diabetic, and that can be draining. It takes constant diligence, so I get mentally tired. But the worst offender is simply my schedule. My husband works second shift, and neither he nor I have done well with a second shift life. If I’m going to be serious about living life to the full, I have to sleep better. There is no way around that. I need to watch my sugar levels so I’m not wakened at four a.m. to fix a low. I need to go to bed earlier. I love to study and read before bed, but I have to start that earlier, because I wake up early regardless of when I go to bed. Maybe I have to nap. I know I need to step up the exercise. But however I do it, I have to get more sleep so I can live with more energy and excitement about my days.
So, I have some work to do. Celebration wasn’t on my radar at all. But if I want to reach the world in any way, I can’t do it all somber and uninspired. The Bible is filled with praise. I intend to work through Psalms, especially, and remind myself that God is about joy. Because of him I have a guaranteed awesome future. And celebrating that is important. Celebrating people I love is important. Celebrating God’s creation–seasons and harvests–is important.
And maybe, if I don’t overthink this and simply call out my inner child, I can have fun with this. And then my family can have more fun with life. I want my children to follow God their entire lives. It’s an adventure with ups and downs and smiles and tears. Lately I haven’t been expressing the full scope of this journey. I feel that if I do, my children, my family, and all those around me will see more of God and want to join me in celebration, too.