Thursday, September 23, 2010

Finding Joy

I got a slap in the face last night. But it was a slap in the face in a good kind of way. That slap came in the form of a phone call from the Charlatan. The phone call started out just catching up on what's been going on for the last couple weeks and his proclamation that he's going to attempt the Master Cleanse. I wished him luck on that one. I've heard it isn't pleasant.

At one point he decided to point out the absurdity of a lot of my Facebook status updates. He made me realize just how many of those things end up being about how much I hate my job and how miserable I am. He told me not to be that guy. You know what? I hate being that guy.

It isn't something I think about very often. I generally just write it off as a part of my personality. I'm sarcastic. I'm cynical. And I have a pretty pathetic attitude toward things at the moment. It isn't something I'm proud of. And it took a phone call from a friend to make me realize just how pathetic it makes me look.

I've said it before, even on this blog, that I don't like being the one that complains. I even feel incredibly guilty for complaining about my trivial problems when so many people I know and love are dealing with so much worse and with more severe consequences.

He went on to tell me that I need to find joy in some area of my life. I sat there and I tried to make excuses for why it's difficult to find this elusive joy. I look around my life and see so much pain and misery and it's just easier to accept that as my reality than to look past all of that to find the genuine joy that must exist.

It got me thinking about something that Dr. Lyle once said back in college. He was our campus minister, and I'm not sure if it was said during a message he was giving or just a regular conversation. But he said he was tired of hearing Christians say that they were "okay, under the circumstances." That simple thing has stuck with me through the years, but I've forgotten the point of it all.

Acts 16 tells the story of Paul and Silas being beaten and thrown into prison for doing God's work. They could have easily looked at their situation and accepted their miserable circumstances. But they didn't. It's not as if Paul looked at Silas and said, "Well, we gave it our best. Guess we'll just have to resign ourselves to rotting away in this place." Instead, the two of them began praising God and singing hymns. The strength of their faith and their joy was powerful enough to shake the walls of the prison.

So what am I doing under the circumstances? As a follower of Christ, I should be able to rise above those circumstances. Not based on anything that I can do alone, but based on the strength that God wants to give me. Just like a parent doesn't want to see his or her children in misery, God doesn't want to see any of us in a miserable state. But the promise isn't that those times aren't going to come. The promise is that He will be there and will remain faithful to us no matter what. He wants us to turn to Him and find in Him a joy that can be found nowhere else.

Toward the end of our conversation, the Charlatan asked if I was mad at him. Of course I wasn't. He pretty much told me something I needed to hear. Like I said, it was a slap to the face. A kind of wake up call that I had been ignoring for a while. So now, I guess, I'm on a quest of sorts. I'm trying to find joy in some area of my life. He told me that I had Jesus, which should be a huge head start. So step one will be to reconnect with Him through a more active prayer life and getting into His Word a little more frequently. Okay, a lot more frequently.

Sorry... Didn't mean to preach. But I think, really, I was preaching more to myself than to anyone out there.


  1. Sounds like you've got a very good friend. This post is exactly what I needed this morning. Thank you!

  2. Good for you! And good for your friend for having the courage (and caring) to tell you.

  3. This is great! It's such a blessing to have friends in life who will call you on your carp (see what I did there?). This stuff is right on, and never really easy. I recommend finding a good book to read along with spending time in the Word--maybe one that can guide you through a more intentional study. "When I Don't Desire God: How to Fight For Joy" by John Piper (or any of his books really) might be a good place to start.
    It's a common battle--one you're not in alone. Praying for you.