Disheveled Theologian: Rejoice with those who rejoice ...
You’ve probably heard people say, “I couldn’t have done it without you!”
Well, it’s true. I couldn’t have built that fort in fifth grade if it wasn’t for the help of my aptly-named neighbor and best pal, Gretchen. I couldn’t have passed my History of WWI class in college if it wasn’t for the notes of a long-forgotten acquaintance who attended class a lot more faithfully than I did. I couldn’t have this column if it wasn’t for my friendly neighborhood editor, Ryan, at The Globe saying “yes” to my inquiry. And I couldn’t have thrown a successful graduation party without the help of my sisters, my niece, and my friends Kris, Kay, Mary, Sally and Jane.
Two years ago, I was speaking with a friend at a graduation party. She asked me if I was taking notes, referring to the fact that our sons would both be graduating soon. I think I looked a little startled. I know I felt more than a little afraid. How could it be so soon? Did I really need to start planning already? Well, no, not exactly, but I sure did need to start admitting that yes, my son was growing up.
Over the next few months, I had a few ideas for his party. He didn’t go for any of them, but my 11-year-old says she likes the idea of serving tater tot hot dish with the servers wearing hairnets a la school lunch ladies, for her party in seven years. We’ll see if she still feels that way when the time comes!
Finally we agreed on a menu (dessert bar) and a time (evening) and a place (church) and I commenced sorting 18 years worth of photos, crafts, drawings, and awards. (My advice to all new mothers from here on out will be to have a separate box for each child’s stuff … because it’s time consuming to have to sort when you’re planning a graduation party!)
I am not a very organized person. I have worked to overcome that, though, so I knew I had to write things down, think through decorations, recipes, platters and punch servers. When the time came, I had everything figured out.
Then, of course, came the big day. (After a lovely graduation ceremony the previous night.) My sisters and niece and I had done most of the decorating the day before, so the day of the party consisted of last-minute things like blowing up balloons, frosting bars and hanging out with my visiting family. By the time the guests arrived, I was excited and raring to go!
We had a terrific time visiting with friends and because of those wonderful ladies in the kitchen, I could do just that and not worry about the food. Truly, I could not have done it without them.
As I reflect upon the party now, I can’t help but think of the passage in the Bible about rejoicing with those who rejoice. So many people came to rejoice with Ian upon the event of his graduation. What a blessing that was! How good it is to be able to celebrate with others who are celebrating.
It’s a little harder to mourn with those who mourn, which that passage also tells us to do. In fact, the entire chapter of Romans 12 is filled with challenging admonitions. “Be patient in affliction…bless those who persecute you…live in harmony with one another…” and on and on it goes.
I think I like rejoicing a lot more. I would imagine that most of us do.
May God give us the strength to mourn with those who mourn, when called to do so, with just as much sincerity as we rejoice with those who rejoice.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Romans 12:15 NIV