“Let’s go around and have everyone share some personal success you’ve had this year.”
I was at a staff Christmas dinner last December when my boss uttered my worst nightmare. Sound a bit dramatic? Well that night, I was feeling dramatic. I was tired from a busy holiday season and feeling extremely insecure about myself. This little group activity was about to add to my insecurity, and I knew it.
For starters, I was one of three single people in the room surrounded by over a dozen couples. Naturally, most people shared about their wedding anniversaries or the success of their children. I have neither of those things. A few people shared about how they graduated college that year or experienced a big financial breakthrough. Those weren’t my story either.
As the fourth couple shared about their 16th wedding anniversary and their oldest getting accepted to college, I started feeling a little nervous.
“What in the world am I going to share about?” I started looking around the room for some inspiration or bit of hope, but none came. I closed my eyes and tried to will some bit of personal success into view. But my view was getting darker.
“Did I lose weight this year? Did I finish any major personal project?” I was scraping for something but still couldn’t find anything.
“Is there seriously nothing that I have to be proud of or thankful for this year?” I wrestled underneath the surface until it was suddenly MY turn.
“Well…” I said sheepishly. “I don’t feel like I had anything major. I just feel like there were a lot of new beginnings and ground-breaking moments as I’ve been starting to come into my own. And I’m looking forward to seeing how everything is going to unfold this year.”
It was vague, but it was true. I couldn’t point to a specific relational, financial, educational, or career marker because I didn’t have a finished product. Everyone else’s progress seemed like an extravagant $1000 bill and mine felt like a humble handful of pennies.
However, somewhere deep down I knew that there was significance to my year. As I sat there and thought more about all that had transpired in those 365 days, I came to appreciate that I had indeed pushed past previous boundaries in my personal life. I recounted each new start in my heart and all the small victories along the way.
As the rest of the staff shared their mountain top moments of 2018, the wrestling in me ceased as I chose to let my small victories finally matter to me.
I had to learn grace in this moment. I had to learn contentment, patience for the process, and how to silence the voice of comparison that was blaring in my spirit.
The whole experience reminds me of Zechariah 4:10 that says: “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin”.
It’s not usually my practice to celebrate the beginning or middle of any event in my life. Like most people, I usually celebrate at the end. But according to this verse, the Lord rejoices at my small beginnings. So, shouldn’t I?
I couldn’t hear His voice over my own insecurity that night, but I think the Lord was asking me to celebrate with Him over all the new beginnings in my life. He was asking me to stop rushing ahead to the finish line and come over to where He was, celebrating at the starting line.
What grace He had for me that December night to lead me right to where He was so that I could be with him and recognize the things truly worth celebrating.
Since that night, I've been asking myself these questions, and now I would like to ask you...What does it look like for you to celebrate the small beginnings? What does it look like for you to celebrate with God over the work He’s doing in your life?
Visit my contact page and give me your thoughts!
Jen is a pastor, worship leader, writer, and songwriter living in Napa, California.