For a while now, I have been struggling with myself and my inability to embrace joy. I’m generally a happy person, but happiness and joy are two completely different things and I am in the middle of trying to figure out how to get past some things that seem to be in the way of being a better friend, husband, father, and servant of God. Here are a few obstacles in my path and might be in yours as well:
1. Trying too hard. I’ve noticed that ambition almost always gets in the way of joy. Joy and contentment are very close to each other. So, when you are in the throes of ambition, it’s understandable that it would be difficult to be joyous and not always reaching for the next goal. How can I get around this issue? I believe that ambition is important and even integral to joy, but it must be balanced or seasoned with an understanding that I can’t be “on” all the time. It seems that every moment I think about what I want to acheive next; what I “need” to accomplish. While it’s important to set and attain goals, it’s also important to take time to just “be”. Joy is in contentment and “being” is part of being content. Just “be”.
2. My expectations are too high. This goes for myself and for others. When you expect too much of yourself, you will often fail those expectations and end up feeling terrible about yourself. However, my main problem is that I expect too much of others and find myself almost continually disappointed by other people. For instance, I think about suffering in the world a great deal of the time; mostly the suffering of children. I lead a ministry over care and provision for orphans and fatherless, which allows me to see this suffering first-hand. So, much of my life and thoughts are consumed with thinking about these kids. This makes it easy for me to judge others and wonder why they’re “throwing money away” or “wasting their time” when I see them post pictures of their families that were just taken in a professional photo shoot. Or I wonder why they couldn’t come to and give at a benefit dinner, then I see that they went to a sporting event or concert and spent who knows how much money to “treat themselves”. I know, this is judgemental and it’s hard for me to deal with, especially when my family and I forego these types of luxuries so that we can give to help children or the poor. Which leads to the last issue I’ve noticed in myself…
3. I think I’m something special. The plain fact is that since I believe I’m doing good things, it makes me feel like I’m somehow better than others. The other fact here is that I AM NOT. I’m an imperfect, weak, and sin-laden soul who needs help and peace and forgiveness just like anyone else.
I know this post is awfully ranty, but I needed to get some things out and also find a way forward through this weird and messy me-ness. We all struggle in life. I just want to be able to not think too much and not abdicate my joy.
I hope you will, too.