How to Celebrate in the Midst of the Ordinary


Note: The following is an excerpt from The Making of an Ordinary Saint by Nathan Foster. As I have been thinking recently about the nature of celebration and the Christian life I have found Nathan’s writing here influential. The idea of celebrating makes me feel somewhat uncomfortable, however Nathan reveals that true celebration takes place in the midst of the ordinary things of life.

– Darryl Eyb

Celebration in the Midst of the Ordinary

I certainly need more practice with celebration, although I’m learning. My insecurities and self-doubt are what keep me from joy. God accepts me; therefore, I can accept myself. God doesn’t shame me; I don’t need to shame myself. I’m free to let others accept, reject, or judge me. As my dad has said, “Freedom from anxiety and care forms the basis of celebration.”[1]

As with the other disciplines, maybe it would have been better to start with small celebrations rather than just going for the big events, like starting fasting for one day instead of ten. Could I be intentional and find joy in my daily life?

Sometimes daily, but at least a few times per week, I’ve started going on walks with my daughter. I listen intently as she spouts Harry Potter trivia or the plotline to some Doctor Who episode, which often leads to her letting me in on her life and the struggles of being a thirteen-year-old girl. We laugh at puns and talk about physics. We listen to the leaves and birds. She has helped work out situations and make decisions. I like her. It feels good to be a dad. Our walks are a really simple act, but it feels like a moment of holy celebration in the midst of the ordinary.

We signed my son up for Cub Scouts, and I decided to become a leader. His excitement to earn badges is contagious. Helping him accomplish his goals almost feels better than meeting goals myself. We also spend time playing video games together. When there is a level he can’t get through, he turns to me, and vice versa. I wrestle with him. He thinks I’m cool. I think he’s cool. Joy.

When my birthday rolled around this year, I decided to deal with my joy sabotage by giving the day to my kids. With a little more guidance than the day I gave them while practicing submission, I let them choose the restaurant, the type of cake, and the activity we did. Best birthday ever.

Celebrating in little ways helps. The small, simple joys feel easy. It’s here that I’m able to approach life as living in God’s smile.

[1] Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1978) p. 191.

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