Limi Kalapurackal ponders on how one can live with joy and celebrate every moment in life.

Honestly, when I received the theme for this article, I was like, ‘Oh yeah this seems rather straightforward’. However, once I started reflecting on it a bit more I realised how deep and complex the topic is. Like any social being, I decided to discuss this with friends and find their thoughts. Some of them kept it simple while others were quite eager to elaborate. What you are about to read here is my effort to unpack this deep, philosophical topic based on my own ideas and inspired by the many chats with friends. Mind you, I could write pages on this topic, and it took some effort to organise my thoughts and jot it down in a structured manner. So please hold on there.

I would like to start off by defining the word ‘celebrate’. A quick Google search tells me that celebrate is defined as ‘to acknowledge (a significant or happy day or event) with a social gathering or enjoyable activity’. Interesting… A few terms that stand out to me within this definition: significant, happy, and social. What is a significant event? Are only happy moments to be celebrated? If we celebrate alone, is it not considered a celebration anymore? Surely, some moments in our lives may be more significant than others. Similarly, there are times when we are not too happy with life. If we were to strictly adhere to the given definition, celebrating every moment in life may seem impossible. Let’s go beyond this definition and see why and how we ought to celebrate every moment in life.

One recurring theme among my friends’ reflections is gratitude and celebrating the small things in life. A celebration need not only be for a ‘significant’ day or event (e.g. graduation, birthday, baby showers, etc.), instead every little thing in life requires to be acknowledged and celebrated. Society has witnessed such development that we now take for granted the many things our parents or grandparents dreamed of. And we don’t realise its value until it is lost. There is a saying in Malayalam which loosely translates, ‘when we have eyes, the value of sight is not known’. Now, apply this to any materialistic or non-materialistic aspect of our lives. Be it the security we have in the countries we live in, the clothes we own, the ability to breathe, the gadgets we purchase, or the beauty of nature we can see – all of these could be the heartfelt longings of someone else…Once that person receives their wish, they will surely celebrate it, so why don’t we celebrate the big and small blessings we already have?

I love the following lines of the song ‘Endless Alleluia’:

In the moments where You go unnoticed
In the ordinary day to day
Countless miracles of life around us
Point like arrows to Your name

If you are someone who has encountered Christ you know how it feels to be filled by his love and mercy. At times we see that this ‘energy’ unfortunately drops over time. We may have big expectations of having extraordinary encounters every day and when that desire isn’t met, we may feel lost. I believe that the lyrics above are a good reminder to see the Lord in everything and everyone around us. Even in the ordinary mundane activities, he is present with us, working miracles within and around us. Now, how does that not require a celebration?

Recently, I read a novel where two teenage boys are told they only have 24 hours at the most to live. Their transformed approach and passion for life is truly inspiring. Let’s face the truth – depressing though it be – that we are all going to take our last breath some day and it could be in the next moment. Sometimes we are blinded to this harsh fact, missing out on cherishing every moment that could be our last. We tend to make plans for the far future, often also worrying about them, when none of this is in our control. The pandemic has certainly taught us this lesson as we were suddenly limited in several respects. Don’t get me wrong, but would you be so taken back by your sorrow if you were told that this was your last moment?

In contrast to sorrow, we have joy on the other end of the spectrum. Cynthia Lewis, a good friend, beautifully differentiated the difference between joy and happiness. According to her, ‘While happiness is an emotion that fluctuates, joy is a mindset that comes from the Lord and helps to celebrate every moment in life without being consumed by the negativity around us.’ Certainly, easier said than done but I believe that there is a truth to it and St. Paul agrees. In his letter to the Romans he says, May the God of hope fill you all with joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (Romans 15:13). Similarly, his reminder in Galatians 5:22 that joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Joy and hope are hence linked through the Spirit and one who is filled by this joy can find hope even in dark times. This not only allows the individual to celebrate every moment in life but reflecting this joy to others helps them make a celebration of life too.

You might say, ‘Bravo Limi! Very good theory, now how do I practise this?’ A dear friend, Hentrin Thomas suggests, ‘self-acceptance may be a good start’. In a world strongly centered around social media and the self-comparison that arises from it, our lives may seem inadequate. To be able to look at the mirror and fully love the person you see inside-out every day, is a step towards being able to celebrate every moment in life. Knowing that you are a work in progress, created as a masterpiece by your loving Father, may aid in growing in self-acceptance. Self-assurance is the next step- knowing that everything that happens (desirable or not) leads you somewhere and that it is worth it. This is certainly not easy but trusting in God, surrendering every moment in his hands, and acknowledging that every blessing is a gift from him, we will be able to celebrate each moment in life.

‘While climbing the ladder of life, taking some time to look around and enjoying the view is what celebrating every moment of life is to me,’ says Rick Jansen, a close friend. We live in a fast-paced world fueled by consumeristic behaviors that are fed by a speed-based economic system. There is little space to accommodate slow activities. Our lives have become so busy that rather than being fully present in the moment, our minds run ahead thinking of the next activity. Our agendas are packed with meetings and appointments which lead to missing out on the blessings around us, as we run from A to B. I admit that I am guilty of this myself. It not only causes my mind to be overly engaged but also risks my being unable to see true beauty in anything. Can you relate?

Taking life a little slower may allow us to be more observant, patient, calm and gentle in this rather rough world. It will help us to see what was previously unseen, both within ourselves and in our surroundings. Psychologically speaking, being busy may cause more stress so taking a breather will keep us mentally sane too. Slowing down will allow us to see beauty in people. It will help us reflect and gain the aforementioned self-acceptance. Remember, there is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

Coming back to Google’s definition for ‘celebrate’, I think there is so much more to it! Celebrations include the classic celebrations we all know of but also the smaller everyday moments in life which we ought to be grateful for. With the grace of God, we can celebrate any moment – good or bad. Like the saints, let us grow in self-acceptance, surrendering it all into his hands.

To conclude, you may have a different understanding of what ‘celebrating’ means but I invite you to take a pause and reflect on what ‘celebrating every moment’ means to you. Most importantly know that you are loved, and your presence is celebrated by those around you.

God Bless!

P.S. Special thanks to all my lovely friends who shared their words of wisdom on this topic.

How can we really celebrate every moment in life?

  • Be grateful for EVERYTHING you have! There is plenty to be thankful for.
  • Enjoy the small things in life, they require celebration too.
  • Open your eyes and see the endless miracles God is working around you. Trust me, there are many!
  • Nothing is really in your control anyway, so why worry about the uncontrollable? Let’s celebrate instead!
  • The Spirit fills us with joy and hope, which will allow us to celebrate every moment in life. Take a moment to invite the Holy Spirit into you.
  • Love yourself, trust the process and know that you are a work in progress. Foster a lifestyle of self-acceptance, self-assurance and surrender.
  • Take a breather, slow down and enjoy every moment in this rushed world. Your constant run may have blinded you to many blessings around you.

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