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Allison Althoff
Allison Althoff
Natalie Lederhouse
Natalie Lederhouse

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September 27, 2011

The Neglected Spiritual Practice

Why do we so often forget the importance and power of celebration?

I was a typical new mom, meticulously recording milestones, photographing every possible facial expression and pose, and religiously recording it all in a scrapbook for my bouncing baby boy. That, of course, was baby number one.

Now I glance with guilt at my poor, neglected baby number three. Okay, she’s not actually neglected, but in the scrapbook arena all that exists so far is a literal scrap of paper on which I’ve hurriedly scrawled her weight and length from her first four doctors appointments. Yup, that’s it. I’ve let life’s busyness and demands completely shove aside any time for baby-booking.

I share this example because I think it reflects what many of us do in our spiritual lives. We zoom through each day without taking any time to celebrate—to take notice, to give thanks, and to rejoice in what God has done. We know we should, but it just always seems so . . . well, so less-important than all the other to-dos. In the family of spiritual disciplines, celebration is the ignored and overlooked younger sister, often hidden behind the looming shadow of the truly “essential” disciplines like prayer and Bible study.

Laughing, smiling, enjoying time with friends—these can seem so trivial and even unspiritual. But in fact, living a celebratory life significantly reflects the joy and contentment we have in Christ. In terms of being a spiritual discipline, celebration is more than just having a party or feeling upbeat all the time. I see it as a companion discipline to worship. In my book The Busy Mom’s Guide to Spiritual Survival, I define celebration this way: “In worship, we focus on and declare eternal, unchanging truths about who God is. . . . Though closely tied to worship, the discipline of celebration is when we focus on and delight in what God does.”

Sometimes celebration comes naturally for us—we rejoice with hugs and high fives or even tearful prayers when a baby is born, a child graduates, or a friend finds healing from illness. But at other times celebration requires attention and effort: when we are disheartened or hurting or tired, we can still choose to take notice and give thanks to God for his blessings. In this sense, celebration is the undercurrent of abundant joy that flows through a believer’s life, even during terribly dark times. “Celebration,” sums up Richard Foster, “is at the heart of the way of Christ.”

Do you neglect the spiritual practice of celebration? If so, why? What impact can a lack of celebration have on a person’s spiritual life? What is God prompting you to celebrate today? Share your gratitude and joy with us.

Comments

I have neglected to notice how much my husband has done for me and our kids! I feel so ashamed at all ive done to my husband!! I love him soo much! And I will Thank God for all he has given me in my life along with the sacrifices my husband has done! I have been selfish and thinking only bout my needs and wants. I will be a better wife,mom and friend through prayer and sacrifices. I thank God for all ive had and look forward to sharing His Love with my family and friends. Please Lord give me strength and guide me in your ways of truth and Love. I need You to work through me and be a compassionate,loving,trustworthy and faithful wife to my loving and caring husband,Daniel Rader! Thank you Jesus,in Your name I pray. Amen

I loved this article and feel it to be so true. We all have so much to be thankful for and life is meant to be really lived to the fullest. We can live that abundant life Jesus meant us to have. How blessed we are! Thanks for the reminder.

Lovely, lovely reminder. I really haven't thought of celebration as a spiritual discipline but it surely is. It is taken right out of Philippians 4.

What am I grateful for, what do I celebrate in this moment? This week is homecoming week in our tiny South Dakota school district. Five of my children are dressing up. I've become a makeup and hairstylist this week (who knew my 80s hairdo expertise would come in handy years later). It has been so much fun. I thought it wouldnt' be but it has been something God has used to bless my kids and bless our relationships.

And I am grateful for the time I get to spend with my 12 year old total-care son. He cannot do anything on his own. We spend each day reading lots together. I read out loud (I've gotten quite good at it) to him. We read about warped geometry, physics, mythology, the Bible, and the latest YA Fiction books. The quiet time him is so precious to me. I am so thankful for the life God has given me.

I wouldn't have chosen it. I wouldn't have ever wanted to have to carry around a 12 year old, but it is okay. There is so much joy in my life.

Thank you Jesus.

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