The Miserable Christian: Finding Raucous Joy

My husband passed on an article to me from The Resurgence blog entitled Raucous Joy. The article explored the fact that sometimes Christians—who have the most reasons to enjoy life—enjoy it the least.

As I read it I knew in my heart that I do not permit myself to enjoy life most days. It's nose to the grindstone, punch it out, wage war, get it done, endure, kind of life. Granted, there are brief periods during each day that I "take a break from life" to actually enjoy something (when I worked full time it was lunch-unless I packed something like a sweet potato and carrots-ugh; now it's chocolate cake in a mug after the baby is asleep).

It's quite strange to be so addicted to not enjoying life. During my short 31 years on this planet I've been known in my communities and friends to be an entertainer-loving to get a good laugh out of people; I'm known by my laugh-people know I'm in a room when a punch line is good; and I've been told I've brought joy to people in various ways.

So why so blue, panda bear? Why take a position of a gloomy martyr? Why don't I celebrate life more? Why don't I seize each day to enjoy life and be thankful and merry?

I guess I feel guilty. I guess I feel like I'm avoiding real life, you know, the mundane and boring parts. The parts that I have to do and the parts that have to be hard and bland.

Do I even sound like someone who knows Jesus? Who knows the Jesus that died on a cross for me that I might live and have ABUNDANT LIFE?! Crazy girl. I'm crazy. I'm like one of those monks that lashes themselves for penance, only I just make myself not enjoy life for the sake of not enjoying life. Yep. I'm crazy.

In this article Bob Kelleman asks this question:

Is the way Christians live life and talk about life a portrait of celebration and joy?

Don't look at me. Because my answer would not be a happy one.

Kelleman goes on, "[Paul reminds us in Titus] that the way we live our life is to make attractive the teaching about our Savior. We adorn doctrine by our joyous celebrations of life."

Oh. So by being a martyr dying for the difficult each day, I'm making the Gospel unattractive?

Boring, listless, gloomy, negative, dour, exhausted, dismal, dreary; this is not the Gospel! So why do I then refuse to live in celebration and joy?

Christian celebration and enjoyment adorns doctrine because it goes deeper than the face value of things, events, moments, and victories. It's rooted in the fact that God exists, is Supreme and Sovereign. Our celebrations and enjoyment of LIFE are a testimony to his goodness, grace, love, kindness, and the Gospel!

So I guess I need to ask myself a few questions. . .

How can I celebrate life more? How can I celebrate and enjoy life that will show the goodness and greatness of God to others? How can I teach my children to have a heart that celebrates?

I thought of a couple ways to do more celebrating and less. . . glooming. . .

Five Ways to Incorporate Celebration into Life

1. Don't be afraid or feel guilty for doing things you enjoy!

For me, I enjoy taking trips with my loves. Day trips, weekend trips, vacations. I love it! It doesn't even have to be a super special or unique place. Just going somewhere is enjoyable. I ruin the enjoyment when I let guilt creep in. . .guilt of spending money (even if we saved for the trip), guilt of leaving behind the needs of others at our church, guilt for being "frivolous" with our time. I must stop this! It takes the enjoyment out of time with my family exploring God's amazing creation.

2. Incorporate celebration into family traditions and holidays.

My mother-in-law delighted in celebrating her children as they grew. When birthdays came around (and the calendar is quite full in May), she would decorate a chair of honor for the birthday boy or girl and make the meal of their choice for dinner. It might seem little, but it's sometimes the little things that make a big impact.

3. Practice hospitality . . . with food.

There's not much that is more delicious and wonderful than food, except maybe food with friends. Invite people over and dine with them. Celebrate life by enjoying food, Jesus, conversation, and laughter. Ask questions. Be delighted by what God is doing in the lives of others. Make the night about enjoyment and fellowship rather than stressing out on dust bunnies lurking in corners or whether it's a meal worthy to be on Iron Chef.

4. Discover what you enjoy about each season.

I do not like winter or spring. Least favorite. I could let a mild depression sink in. I live in Colorado, so these seasons are "mild" snowy season, but they are still cold and unpredictable for this Florida born and raised girl. It's hard on my heart to go from a 60 degree sunshine day to 30's and snowing the next. But instead on dwelling on what I don't like about a particular season, I decided to discover what is enjoyable.

For your reading pleasure, my enjoyable lists about winter and spring:

Winter: skiing, Christmas, the mountains in snow, wool socks and scarves, hot chocolate, quiet slow evenings because it gets dark so quick

Spring: crocus that come up early, planning and prepping the garden, baby season a the local farm, Easter

5. Be thankful and teach your children to be thankful.

When I worked at Eagle Lake Summer Camps, Mondays were the worst-even at summer camp! Sundays were high energy,preparing and welcoming new campers for the week. Mondays were days for strong coffee, lots of pancakes with peanut butter, and dark dark sunglasses. My friend Renae instituted "Monday Morning Thankfulness" and encouraged the counselors to make a list, even a small one, of things they were thankful for on Monday. Sometimes my list included showers, a heated dining hall (summers in Colorado mountains are still cold), and forks, but hey-it helped my attitude; it helped me remember to enjoy the things I'm thankful for, even when the day feels like a drag.

What about you? How do you celebrate and enjoy life? Any suggestions on how you incorporate enjoyment and celebration?