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Belly flops.

Pie Eating Competition.

Synchronized Swimming.

Matching T-shirts.

These are a few of the stand out memories in my head from a summer retreat I went to in college. It was a weekend planned to celebrate life and deepen community with friends, with an abundance of confetti thrown around every corner.

Woven into the weekend were a few speakers. One of whom I really respected. He was an older man who had experienced a lot of life.  I always leaned in a little harder when he spoke because he was the type of speaker that had a quiet, gentle voice but always said something incredibly profound.

As he began sharing, he explained that they chose the theme of celebration that year to remind us that sometimes in life, it might not always be easy to celebrate, but celebration is vital for the believer’s life. He shared that often there might be seasons in life where, “celebration would take discipline”.

To be honest, I remember writing that phrase down in my notebook with a question mark by it.

How hard could it be to celebrate? What do you mean, “celebration would take discipline?” Discipline is a word I associated with marathon training, military generals, or an attribute I try to possess when my teammates bring doughnuts to work. Not a word I associated with celebration.

He clearly didn’t see the pie eating competition at the retreat. It was not hard to celebrate!

Fast forward a few seasons in life, I’m sitting here at my desk preparing to stand up in wedding number three in the last five months, and something about that phrase has been ringing true. Another wedding while I am still single? Another baby shower invite in the mail when the gift of motherhood feels far away? How is it possible to show up in these moments and celebrate those we love when our own hearts feel heavy with the disappointments of life and unfulfilled longings?

Sometimes things like sadness, grief, disappointment, envy, and comparison start to cloud the ability to celebrate.

Am I alone in this? Cringe.

Paul gives us a command in Romans 12:15 to, Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” 

 This isn’t just the “thing to do to be a good friend”. It’s actually a biblical command. Rejoice with your friends who are rejoicing – even when you don’t feel like it.

I think that speaker back in college was right. Just like it takes discipline to strengthen our bodies, I believe it also takes discipline to strengthen our ability to celebrate. There may be seasons where it may not be our natural response to rejoice with those who rejoice, but we still need to flex the muscle of celebration in our life.

So how do we strengthen within us the discipline to celebrate? Here are three ways I have found that have helped me on this journey:

 LOVE

 Just before Paul gives us the command to rejoice with those who rejoice, he also provides us with another call to action – “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans- 12:10 Celebrating others involves first looking outside of ourselves and to the needs and situations of another. As believers, we are called to do this life together and walk alongside of each other. Therefore, we first must be devoted to each other in sincere and genuine love.

 SURRENDER

Sister, it is not wrong to feel sadness in areas where your friends might be rejoicing. However, I have found that our sadness can easily morph into envy or jealously. Sometimes, I have to do a personal inventory and ask myself, am I holding these desires too closely? Do I need to surrender and trust God in this area of my life? Perhaps our inability to celebrate others in an area is because we have not yet surrendered that part of our lives fully to God.

 PRAY

Finally, pray.

Pray that God would allow you to truly celebrate those around you are walking through times in their life where they need a friend to dance and cheer with them.

Pray that God would help you love those around you with sincere love.

Pray that as members of the body of Christ your eyes would be opened to the needs of others.

Pray that God would comfort you as you celebrate others.

Pray that the Holy Spirit would illuminate areas of your life that you may need to surrender to Him.

Finally, pray that the Lord would strengthen within you the disciple to celebrate!

Steph Vandermolen is a member of the Live Original Team. She loves watching hockey, drinking coffee on chilly days, and knows too many random facts about Iceland.

Stephanie VanderMolen

Author Stephanie VanderMolen

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