Learning to Celebrate Everyday Victories

I slid into the water between the lane lines at the pool, ready to start my workout. In the lane next to me, a woman was taking a lesson from a private instructor.

When I swim laps, I only go four lengths at a time. After that, I pop up for a fifteen second breather before pushing off the wall to start the next set. So I couldn’t help but hear bits and pieces of the exchanges between instructor and student. It was obvious that the swim lesson was very difficult for the middle aged student. I heard the instructor calmly encouraging her, giving her lots of praise for her short strokes and flailing kicks.


What really impressed me was something the instructor said to boost her student’s confidence. “You’ve come such a long way. You used to be afraid to get into the water. Now you can float and swim a little on your own too. That’s great progress! That should be celebrated!”

I couldn’t help but chime in after hearing that wonderful bit of wisdom. I said, (a little breathlessly), “You’re impressing me, that’s for sure.”

The instructor gave me an appreciative smile, and the student let out a shy, little laugh. I could tell she was proud of herself, and I was proud of her too. But even more, I was struck by the instructor’s words.

We really should celebrate our victories, no matter how small they may seem. This new swimmer was doing great things, but she thought she wasn’t doing well at all. How sad is that? I wanted to tell her that every time she overcame her fears, or got even a step further toward her goal, she was victorious.

Why is it so hard to accept that we are capable of doing good things?

As I continued swimming, I wondered about that question. I had to admit, I often fail to recognize or celebrate my own achievements too. Instead, I’ll think, “Yes, I did that. But I could have done it better. Or faster. Or thought of it sooner.” It’s like I repeatedly light the candle of victory in my mind, and then turn around and blow it out with self-defeating criticism.

That little swimming lesson really helped me realize how important it is to recognize personal growth, no matter the size. We all need to experience the encouragement and joy of our personal achievements. A little happy dance, or a small giggle of delight doesn’t mean that you’re prideful or refuse to see that you could do better. It just means that you appreciate the grace and goodness of a work that’s been well done.

In this season of Advent, the weeks before the celebration of the birth of Christ, let’s make a pact. Every day, let’s promise to catch ourselves doing something well, and then stop for a minute to soak that in.

For these next few weeks, let’s claim our daily successes, without exception. All those victories are joyful, encouraging gifts from the Lord, who loves to make his children happy.

Let’s honor our personal daily victories with a little happy dance…or maybe pie?

Surrounded by the Spirit on Facebook


I will be taking the month of December off to prepare for Christmas in my home and in my heart. I wish you all a blessed Advent and Christmas celebration, and I look forward to seeing in January. May God bless you and yours with his peace and joy!

27 thoughts on “Learning to Celebrate Everyday Victories

  1. I agree … I am presently on a diet. So every time I lose the slightest bit of weight I shall celebrate with a pizza, or a pie, or French fries, or … … …

    Seriously though, Ceil. You offer good advice, especially since our greatest success is to hang on in there when life is difficult and to trust God every step of the way. Our faith may falter and weaken, but just continuing to trust is what matters most.

    Happy Advent. God bless.

  2. Celebrating those little victories . . .So important, Ceil! Each time we feel God moving us forward in positive ways is cause for celebration!
    I will miss you in December, but wishing you and yours a Blessed Advent and a Merry Christmas!

  3. What an encouraging post, Ceil! We often forget that to learn to run we had to learn to take that first wobbly step. And we ALL need more celebrations in our lives!

    Have a very merry and blessed Christmas, Ceil! See you in the new year!

  4. Yes, let’s celebrate instead of beating ourselves up … let’s rejoice in the little victories God showers us with! I love this post, Ceil.

    And I sure do wish you the most restful, joyous advent, friend. How blessed we are to have such an awesome Savior!

  5. Oh, how true this is…I think we feel like we are being arrogant or prideful to actually admit that we have made progress or accomplished something. Thank you for this reminder that it is okay to celebrate those victories! I wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas season, too, my friend, and I look forward to seeing a post from you in the New Year, Lord willing! God bless you!

  6. Aw what a wonderful and encouraging message, Ceil! I love this. I too, blow that candle out immediately after I do a quick pat on my back- with those defeating thoughts ALL.THE. TIME.

    Thank you for this.

    “It just means that you appreciate the grace and goodness of a work that’s been well done.”

    I hope you have a blessed and beautiful season, my friend. God bless and Merry Christmas!

  7. What an inspiring post! I choose Pie–LOL! Yes, we all spend F A R too much time beating ourselves up and ignoring the victories! Thank you for this post. I am going to do my best to do just what you have suggested!
    Blessings, My Friend!

  8. Absolutely loved this post today. So very true are your words dear Ceil. I hope that you and yours has a very Merry Christmas and a Wonderful New Year. Love to you dear lady.
    Hugs and blessings, Cindy

  9. I love these reflections, Ceil. That self-criticism can be such a pest, can’t it? What a great swimming instructor! Thank you for the reminder that rejoicing over an accomplishment can be praising God’s grace instead of nurturing our pride. Love and hugs to you! Have a beautifully blessed Advent Season and Christmas!

  10. “It’s like I repeatedly light the candle of victory in my mind, and then turn around and blow it out with self-defeating criticism.” Wow. That’s me more often than I’d like to admit. But I am learning to like myself more, and celebrate the baby steps, like you. Pie indeed!

    Happy Christmas, dear Ceil

  11. Such a good lesson! These lessons seem to follow you around, and I’m glad when you share them with us. 🙂 I am listening to a pastor’s message online this week, and one thing he’s discussing is our philosophy (negative or positive) and how it shapes our lives. It’s a matter of perspective and how it affects our thoughts and interactions, among other things. He goes on further to say how we don’t count and celebrate our blessings, victories, and positive happenings often enough. Your post fit right in! Enjoy your break and time with family. Blessings and hugs to you!

    P.S. Thanks for your kind comments on my blog this week. xo

  12. Hi Ceil! Thank you for sharing this heart-felt post. We really should celebrate the little, seemingly insignificant victories in life. Some times it’s the littlest things that make the biggest difference. The encouragement you gave to the adult learning to swim likely means more than you can fathom.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family!



  13. I agree, we need to celebrate the little things and take a moment to enjoy them rather than just focussing on how far we still have to go. I know that if I feel I’ve achieved something, however small, it encourages me to keep going. Hope you have a happy Christmas!

  14. One hundred and 10 percent agree! That’s why I have the daily question, ‘what successes did I have yesterday?’ in my journals. Having a success-filled mind gets us taking that next step or maybe even learning a new stroke like your swimmer! Merry Christmas Cecil!

  15. I try to be thankful for every positive little snippet that happens daily. What is the alternative…possibly to have a miserable day. This is certainly a great example of how a kind expression of encouragement can make someone’s day…and I think God kinda likes it when we do that 🙂 Hugs!

  16. Merry Christmas to you and wow what a meditative time you have as you swim. deep thoughts in deep water. I have preposted for the end of December so am taking some time off too after next week but will keep your pack to watch for my daily success. A great idea.Enjoy your break!

  17. I love that we should celebrate victories no matter how small. I missed you before you signed off for the month.

    I want to wish you many blessings this Christmas season. May your days be filled with family, love, and joy! Love you, friend!

  18. Hi Ceil,
    where you wrote ‘“You’ve come such a long way. You used to be afraid to get into the water. Now you can float and swim a little on your own too. That’s great progress! That should be celebrated!” this reminded me of our perseverance in trials and how we are strengthened to trust the Lord to bring us through them.
    Have a lovely Christmas with the family, see you in January.

  19. “It’s like I repeatedly light the candle of victory in my mind, and then turn around and blow it out with self-defeating criticism.” Oh m, Ceil! That is so me! Why are we so harsh on ourselves? I pray that for many of us, this upcoming new year will be one in which we truly do celebrate our mini-victories and boost our self-esteem instead of pulling our own selves down.

  20. I’ve always believed in the power of gratitude. Celebrate small victories and big victories follow. Thank you for your wisdom.

    Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *