…we can find joy in every season by persevering and allowing God to use it for good.
From the moment we enter this world and take air into our lungs, we experience our first rite of passage – birth. Life is a series of rites of passage. One might even call them the mile-markers on the roadmap of life. We take pride in them. We celebrate them. Sometimes, we even experience significant breakthroughs because of them. Whenever a new year rolls around, we think about what kind of rites of passage we’d like to be experiencing and hopefully celebrating.
I’ve always classified my rites of passage as mainly high points of change or moments of achievement, but when I looked up the definition, I was surprised by what I learned. A rite of passage is defined as “a ritual associated with a crisis or a change of status (as marriage, illness, or death) for an individual,” according to Merriam-Webster.com online dictionary. Crisis? Change? Those are hard! Right? Of course!
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When I think about all the times of crisis or change in my life, I realize that they were certain rites of passage that substantially impacted my life. Celebrating the “good” rites of passage like birthdays, winning games, graduations, and weddings is easy. We get together and throw a party with food, fun, and sometimes an exchange of gifts. However, should we start celebrating times of crisis? Well, I believe we should, and here’s why:
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy, for you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for you will be perfect and complete when your endurance is fully developed, needing nothing. ”
James 1:1-4 (NLT)
It’s hard to find joy in the challenging moments of our lives. When we are hurting, disappointed, or feeling like a failure, we are not exactly jumping up and down with sheer delight. I don’t know about you, but in hard times, I find myself praying to God that He would remove the hardship. My initial reaction is usually frustration. I become so consumed by my feelings that I often fail to see the bigger picture…you know, the one God ALWAYS sees.
When I think about my childhood, some of my favorite memories involve the “happy” rites of passage. My mom threw big birthday bashes for me, my first dance recital, my baptism at age 12, my first job at the Hawaiian ice place, my first date, graduating, and my first day of college are some of my favorites. It’s fun to recall the happy moments.
I remember the less desirable rites of passage, too. I won’t forget breaking a bone for the first time in middle school. I landed on my hand wrong while attempting to do a back handspring. I remember not making the middle school cheerleading team in my sixth-grade year after all those hours of gymnastics lessons. I will never forget being in the hospital room with all my mom’s side of the family and seeing my aunt and uncle crying hysterically while holding my 18-year-old cousin who passed away in a tragic accident. I had never experienced that kind of loss before. It opened my eyes to the frailty of life. I grew up a little more that day.
Moments of crisis can change us for the better, yet we often reject the change. We don’t feel like finding joy in the pain and don’t want to throw a party. So, why do we have to walk through these uncomfortable and sometimes painful rites of passage? WE MUST GROW, and we have the most growth through trying times if we allow ourselves to walk through it thoroughly. That is worth celebrating, but not in the same way we do when things are “good.”
Many of us are experienced participators in the rituals of crisis celebration, but we may not even realize it. Here are a few ways we “celebrate” times of crisis:
- When we experience rejection, we keep putting ourselves out there, focus on growing our relationship with the Lord and surround ourselves with people who share our values.
- When we get injured, we use our time of immobility to slow down and get to know our loved ones better.
- When we experience a loss, we draw closer to our friends and family and celebrate our loved one’s life by sharing our fond memories of them.
- When we lose a job, we utilize our time at home to hone our craft, learn a new skill, or pursue a unique opportunity.
- When our marriage is going through a tough season, we talk about it with our spouse and seek professional help from a Christian counselor for support and perspective.
Again, these are just a few, but regardless of the circumstance, we can find joy in every season by persevering and allowing God to use it for good.
These rites of passage pack a punch but can make us stronger if we get back on our feet. It is a “passage,” not a permanent placement. We are not meant to live in a state of crisis. God allows us to experience hardship to make us better. We must remember that walking through these tough rites of passage is the ONLY way we can become “complete” and “needing nothing” (James 1:4). There is a greater purpose in the pain when we learn and grow. It never feels good at the time, but growth is good. Let’s strive to embrace all rites of passage as their gifts during this new year and many years to come. God is using them to grow us into the complete person he created each of us.