A few months ago, I attended a Stevie Wonder concert. Not because “Songs in the Key of Life” are from my generation or because I wanted to get my party on, but because my daughter sang in the choir that backed him up on a couple of songs and I do my best to support all my daughters in their endeavors. But I learned something last night: the old gray mare, she ain’t what she used to be. Once upon a time, she could frolic in the meadows with the best of them, but today — all she can do is sit to the side and watch the young fillies leap and jump and run, and mutter about them showing off.
Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 3;
3 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
Outside the womb, life begins with a startled cry! We are unceremoniously thrust into the world and our seasons begin.
We excitedly rush up to 18
We party at 21
We lose our minds at 25
We warily accept dirty 30
We blink at 35
We give 40 a blank stare
We stagger at 50
And then we quickly realize we are being stalked by 60 as 70, and beyond, lurk in the shadows
We move from spring to summer to fall to winter
And when winter comes, we wrap ourselves in memories and nostalgia and a few regrets and wonder, to paraphrase the words of that Deborah Cox song, “How did we get here?”
Winter can be a time of celebration, or we can turn it into a never ending complaint that turns us sour and bitter and grumpy.
You see, celebration is not an automatic response; it is a decision to acknowledge an event or a moment or a season.
Celebration requires only one participant — YOU!
You must be the first person to celebrate you in your season regardless of the perspective of others or their take on what your place should be.
When you spend your time downplaying you, you allow others to mute your voice, to render you invisible. You will play into their expectations and become their proselytes to enable their goals and dreams and visions as yours languish on the vine.
Today, I celebrate who I am and where I am and today I want to share with you what I have learned from my spring, summer, fall and now winter seasons with the acrostic CELEBRATE:
● Choose to live, not just exist
● Endure hardness with grace, or, in the words of “Annie,” remember that the sun will come out tomorrow.
● Live In The Moment
● Extinguish Doubt
● Banish Fear (not just being afraid of something, but also being afraid to do something, to try something)
● Receive Grace Graciously
● Accept Limitations
● Expect Greatness (not just in you but in others also. Speak life into the lives of others with no thought of reciprocity)
Here are a few more pointers that did not make their way into the acrostic:
● Be genuine, the authentic real you, not the you you think others want to see but the only you only you can be. (Fearfully and wonderfully made, created by God to be unique, one of a kind).
● When you are tempted to declare life is not fair, CELEBRATE, because fair means to get what you deserve!
● Discard the baggage; it is slowing your progress!
Every wrinkle, every ache, every pain in this season reminds me I am still here, not by chance or happenstance but by purpose on purpose for a purpose. Time marches on but I do not have to mark time or keep time to someone else’s beat.
God’s schematic for you is still in place even if you think it is taking too long (70 years for Israel in spite of our love of Jeremiah 29:11).
Joy and sorrow
Solitude and loneliness
Abundance and loss
The highways snd the hedges
The mountains and the valleys (in order to get to the mountaintop, you still have to climb the rough side of the mountain)
Kick envy to the curb and Refuse to keep company with jealousy
Envy says, “I want what you have.”
Jealousy says, “I want to be you.”
Both say, “I am not celebrating me in this season.”
I am not who I say I am. I am not who you say I am. I am who God says I am.
This year I have wrestled with my arthritic limp, did my best to disguise it as I struggled through the arthritis.
Why the struggle? Because I did not want to appear imperfect. I was crippled by the notion of perfectionism. Rather than celebrate that my God uses cracked and chipped vessels, I chose to pretend that I was impervious to pain, invulnerable and invincible. I lied to myself and refused the intervention of God’s grace. I was in a state of denial, lying to myself every step of the way. I must not let the limp stop the celebration.
Sister Maya wrote a poem just for me, especially in this season; wanna hear it, here it goes:
BY MAYA ANGELOU
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Even in this season – still a Phenomenal Woman, limp and all!