We have a whole lot of celebrating to do this month: a big girl's second birthday, an amazing man's graduation, the visits from out of town family and friends, and of course, the best of all, Christmas itself. As poor of a party planner as I am, we've got this whole celebrating thing lined up and dialed in this month. But what I am sure I need to be a lot more intentional about: celebrating someone else.
In my advent study, we have been reading the prophet of Malachi- beautiful scripture foretelling the very holiday we elaborately celebrate with trees and stockings and all things green, red, gold, and silver. In this book, the Lord tells us about the coming Savior, about a prophet that will come before him, and that for those who believe, we shall go out leaping like calves from the stall: with the glee and joy and carefree spirit of unbounded, pure freedom. Wow. To live a life with that kind of joy, what a gift to the world.
As I roll these words around in my heart, I cannot help but think that I can celebrate my life, my blessings, my family with great consistency. I can humble-brag on this blog or social media, and I can rally likes and comments and take great pleasure in a day where I have been affirmed, encouraged, and cheered on. In a me-centered world, I want my parties well attended. But this world is not about me. At the center of it all is Jesus, who has given us the grace to live in pure freedom, in joy. And I think the kind of joy he desires for us makes a big deal of him and big deal of other people. It celebrates other people. The joy of a life surrendered to Jesus leaves judgment up to him, freeing me up to love, to say "I'm so happy for you... your pregnancy, your new home, your vacation, your promotion, your new business, your accomplishment..." Joy cannot keep score, because it is lost in the celebration, in the dance and in the music of the party I am so lucky to attend.
It gets so dang exhausting rallying cheers for myself, and I think God rigged the system that way. When we lose our life, we find it... when we can put aside the me, me, me, look at me! life, all of sudden we get both: the joy of celebrating others and the blessing of others celebrating us. With Christ's birth, life, death, and resurrection, he freed us up to not have to think too much about ourselves, to not have to manage the anxiety of constantly wondering "do they like me? do they see me? am I ok?" The God of the universe sent Jesus, and "all the promises of God find their YES in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory."* (Are you fist-pumping or what?!) YES, to every question about my identity, my worth, my salvation, my security in Christ and the promise of his return. Yes. I am choosing to believe this, because I know that when I don't, when I hustle for approval, it leaves me empty every time. So let's go give away joy, love, celebration because we will never run out of it in Jesus.
*2 Corinthians 1:20