Be honest, when you think of cross-cultural workers as a whole, we are not known for being great at celebrating. Instead, we might be known for working hard, caring deeply about those we came to serve, being adept with converting time zones and currencies, and no-one knows the best places for good local food better than us.
But celebrating is important. During the “Reflecting on 2019 and Preparing for 2020” parties that were a part of the January challenge, more than one person said a variation of “I found reflecting on the year was really good…we are in a hard place with teammates leaving so it was good to see there was good too.”
Today we will talk about why you need to build your celebrating muscles. Celebrating (and mourning, stay tuned for next week) will be a regular practice for you at Global Trellis and here’s why:
1. Celebrating forms you. Michael Hyatt says, “When we skip celebration, we cheapen our efforts.” As cross-cultural workers how much of any success is due to you? How much is due to God? This tension is, in part, why we shy away from celebrating. What we do is part our effort, which includes cultural knowledge and strategy, and part the work of the Spirit. But when we don’t celebrate, acknowledging the work of the Spirit too, we are short-circuiting how God has made our bodies. Celebrating forms your nervous system. You are creating neural pathways by your celebrating (or non-celebrating). Don’t cheapen what God is doing in
2. Celebrating trains you to look for things to celebrate. Did a conversation go well? Did you see an answer to prayer? Was your taxi driver adept at navigating your city? Was the meal you ate especially delicious? Did an unexpected donation come in? Is your child making local friends? Has a teammate extended
3. Celebrating fights black and white thinking. What you are doing is hard. It can be lonely and frustrating and feel like nothing is happening. Humans are still trafficked, medical conditions are still awful, roads are still in horrible condition, essays still need to be graded. Your home country is awful. The weather is too ______ (cold, humid, windy). Without the counter ballast of celebrating, you see only the awful.
4. Celebrating fosters joy. The paradox of joy is that we are commanded to rejoice (Philippians 4:4) and it is a fruit that can naturally come from us (Galatians 5:22). So, as you rejoice, you foster joy within yourself.
5. Celebrating helps you to be present and not wait for “someday.”
6. Celebrating lets others join in. In his letter to the Romans, as Paul was commending them to put love in action, he encouraged them to “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Let your family, teammates, neighbors, and supporters celebrate with you and look for opportunities to celebrate with them.
7. Celebrating strengthens you. Going from task to task, being ruled by deadlines, and knowing that the work will never really be done is draining. Celebration stands in contrast, and it adds fuel to you: mind, body, and soul.
Celebrating forms you, it trains you to notice, it fights black and white thinking, it fosters joy, it helps you be present, it lets others join in, and it strengthens you.
Celebrating is also one side of a flourishing coin. Next week we will talk about the other side of the coin and why you need to build your grieving muscles.
What do you have today that you can celebrate? Think back to January and list three things you can celebrate.
Whether living in proximity to physical harm, in an area prone to natural disasters, with inadequate health care, or risking a future that might not include a spouse or children, this month’s workshop is for you.