“Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.” (Song of Songs 2:12)
For months now, the anticipation has been building! The final countdown came about 10 days ago. Last night, it came to fruition. Yes, I know it was Good Friday, the day we Christians reflect on the unconditional love of God as found in the death of Jesus Christ. But this Good Friday had been named “BEST FRIDAY” by my friend Jody several months ago when she planned her future wedding date. “Come to my wedding on Best Friday,” was her invitation to her family and friends, Allen and I being among them. “Can’t wait, Jody!” was my reply and I sent emojis and texts over the past few weeks reminding us both of the imminent celebration!
Jody is one of the members of my women’s group, the Beautiful Mess, that meets every Thursday morning. She has been with us from the very first day over 11 years ago. On that day, we found out that her dad and my mom were raised by missionary parents in the same small African country, working for the same small organization and actually had grown up together. Immediately, we had a connection and an unbreakable bond. I loved her from the start. As I spent time with her, I found her bright, sunny smile, gracious heart, and super upbeat, yet laid-back disposition intriguing and delightful. Her relationship with her four boys wins her the “best mom award” (as I playfully reminded them last night and heard no argument…in fact, they were all very quick to agree). I am pretty fierce in my love for and desire to protect her.
Thanks to Jody, this phrase “Best Friday” has been reverberating in my head and heart for quite some time. The excitement of the anticipation of something long-waited for has brought me sheer enjoyment. Coupled with the fact that this “Best Friday” celebration marked the end of my 40-day fast, Jody would receive “her happily ever after.” This put a huge smile right on my heart (and my face, I will admit). The fast had started the day after my birthday, one celebration, and was ending it with another. I couldn’t have asked for better book ends. And celebrate we did. Dancing. Food. Friends. Love.
I am so thankful for the fast. I removed the external, physical pleasure for the sole purpose of internal, soul-level healing. It brought me better health, both physically and spiritually. It reminded me that I am much more than JUST the physical. It’s a mystery to me how it works (even though I am confident that it definitely does) and I’m okay with that.
Richard Foster, in his book, Celebration of Discipline, speaks of all the “serious-side of spiritual growth” practices like prayer, meditation, solitude, fasting, etc. They are valuable. They matter. But one of my favorite chapters is titled the “Discipline of Celebration.” Wait? What? Celebration is a discipline in and of itself? Why?
After last night, I am again reminded of why. Why do we dance and cheer and weep for joy along with our friend who finds the love of her life? Why do we buy balloons and ice cream cakes (which I am doing again today for our son Josh) to celebrate the birth of someone? Why do we get dressed up, go to church, have egg hunts and gather with family on Easter Sunday?
Celebration says to others, “you are valuable, I choose you today,” not out of convenience, but actually with fierce intentionality. It says, “I really know you and love you. You matter.”
Yes! There are times for fasting! The practice is invaluable. In fact, I want to incorporate it into my week and not just go back to “business as usual.” I want be reminded often of HOSANNA (God, Come Save Us!).
But yes! Last night, on Best Friday, the time for fasting was over. It marked the time for feasting and celebration! At least for the three days this weekend! Here goes!
Jody, you are valuable. I love you. What matters to you matters to me! I celebrate with you! As John said to me last night, “Jody is the best person I have ever met! I promise you I will take care of her!” How could I not do a little internal leap for joy (and some external leaps as well for those of you who saw me dancing the night away) as I know you are fully-known and fully-loved by this man! Yippee!
Josh, you are valuable! I love you. Your birth marks one of the best days in my life! I hope that you find that we, as a family, celebrate all the facets of who you are. You are truly one of a kind! You are loyal, bold, curious, and determined, along with being super quirky! You one of my favorite people in the whole word! How could I not have tears welling up in the corner of my eyes as I write this! Yippee!
Jesus, you are valuable! I love you. You matter! Your fierce pursuit of me by your coming to earth, living among us humans, dying on that cruel cross and then overcoming the worst that humanity could do to you by rising from that death is the reason I have hope for the healing of my heart (and you readers out there by the way)! I can’t wait to join my family to celebrate you on Easter Sunday! I choose you! Yippee!
Happy Easter to each of you! Let’s celebrate together! (Even if it’s just on our screens!)