Saturday, March 15, 2008

Joy


I've had a great day.
I'm just loving what I'm doing in work.
On the academic side, I really liked my last two classes, even though I found the time they took up were eating into other areas of my time.
My children were tired and kranky today big time (granny babysitting on Fri night = later night for them), but I've enjoyed them, more so this morning it has to be said!
Family cell at teatime tonight was - wow - amazing. Even though my little boy was - difficult. Then found out he was running a temperature!

Oh dear....I sound kind of tiresome to be around, don't I?
In chatting over my strengthsfinder results with another person, it was suggested to me that positivity, one of my themes, has a flip side.
It can annoy people.

I think I live and operate under a comment of blessing that was made to me when I was 14 years old. I'm quite old (but still in my 30s!) so maybe none of my readers will remember the band Heartbeat, who visited my church in 1984. I had just become a Christian and filled with the Holy Spirit in an amazing and dramatic way and I could just NOT STOP bubbling over, praising God, feeling loved, joyful and content. Even though lots of other parts of my life were not easy and straightforward and were causing me pain - my mum and dad, for example, were really unhappy that I was coming to church - I felt joy deep down more or less all of the time. This, folks - is the work of the Holy Spirit!

While Heartbeat were setting up, I was joyful and bubbly - I can't remember what I said or did but I remember thinking "these guys don't know me, perhaps I'm just being too enthusiastic" and I apologised to them for being uber-joyful. And one of the band said: "don't ever apologise for being excited about God. Always hold onto that". Those words really stuck with me. Makes you realise the power of the words we speak - and I would add - particularly the power of words spoken to what Bronfenbrenner calls "the developing human person" - children and young people.

Sure, I get grumpy. If I'm upset or stressed at work it's really clear to see. And my poor family will get the worst bits! But I find, in refuelling times with God, the deep joy returns. The wonderful dichotomy that exists for me as a Christian is that I can actually cry and feel sad (see Thursday's post) yet still have a deep sense of joy and excitement about the goodness of God shown to me. I am frequently moved to tears as a wave of gratefulness comes over me. Need a hanky every prayer time!

I find that this sense of joy is closely related to my devotional times with God. And in being obedient. Drop the obedience part, drop the sense of the presence. And I've been very disobedient in my time. These are times that I don't recall with pride and I remember them full well.

So (back to topic) - I think on that day in 1984 a word was spoken to me that was a word of life; that not only gave permission for joy, but encouraged and blessed the expression of joy. Words that brought life not death, blessing not curse.

What do you think - can people be so annoyingly positive that it's just too much?
Are there times when joy, excitement and happiness should be kept under wraps?
Please leave your thoughts in the comments section.

6 comments:

  1. I suppose I get annoyed at people who seem joyful at a time when I don't have much to be joyful about or, too much to be unhappy about! Sometimes you need someone to help you wollow in your misery for an hour or so... don't know if that's healthy but it works for me!

    My fave verse is Romans 5: 1-11. I once had a difficult group of girls at an SU camp and I just felt that they had taken the joy out of my week... until the youngest of the girls handed me my bible and she'd pressed a daffodil between the pages with that verse on it. Then I remembered about finding joy in my troubles. What a blessing, it changed my whole perspective of the week I'd had. I hope we can find joy in all that we do and pass it on... even if that sometimes means restraining ourselves a little for the sake of others =)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well Lynn, I'm with you on the joy front. What a wonderful word - "don't ever apologise for being excited about God".

    God has been so good to me & over the last 5 years or so, I have got more & more free to express that joy & excitement at what I see God doing in me, my friends, my work, my neighbourhood. It's not all plain sailing for me either - there are difficulties & challenges in most areas of life & I ache for my friends who are having hard times. But I believe God more than I doubt myself.

    I sit here writing this with a busted knee & a hoarse voice - both injuries sustained by exuberantly worshipping God this week! But it's going to take a whole lot more than that to shut me up! As the song says: "I ain't gonna let no rock do my praising for me"!

    So, could all this be annoying for others? Quite possibly, yes. But I have spent far too long looking over my shoulder at what other people might think. I am having encounters with the Living God, which are transforming my life. I can't pretend otherwise. To "tone it down" would be to misrepresent myself, and to misrepresent God (an altogether more serious thing) I apologise to anyone who I offend. I don't want to put a barrier between anyone & God. However, in my heart, I wonder if enforced solemnity creates a whole lot more barriers than natural positivity, however irritating.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You be joyful, excited and as happy as you like girl and let the world see God at work in you! Yes, we can all get a bit naffed off when things look bleak and someone is brimming over like a tap you can't turn off. But perhaps some of that joyful water might just refresh the desert of another's soul?

    We must get together for coffee! Coffee and spiritual refreshing is exactly what I need!! L x :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks all for interesting comments. I have found it significant that as I get older the joy seems to be "deeper";for example, I am grieving for a wonderful lady who passed away last week but I still feel joy within me. Don't get me wrong, I don't think I was particularly superficial or false when I was younger, but I have learned a little more sensitivity towards other people.

    In saying that, I don't think it's right to restrain and hold back something that God has authored in you. I don't really get the "I've got joy really deep down" thing either. Sometimes I really do feel fit to burst with excitement, even after 25 years of being a Christian. We need to be counter-culture but also counter the secular norms of "everything in moderation" - there was nothing moderate about David's abandon to praise in the face of those who despised him in their hearts.

    And the key of course, for me, is to spend time with the Father; to literally breathe in and taste his presence! And ask for more of the fruit of the Spirit to be evident/tasted/experienced/on show; don't think it was described in Galatians for it just to sit in a fruit bowl "isn't that pretty, it looks good, wish I could have some" kind of thing.

    I'm not superwoman. To bring a balance here - when I let unrealistic expectations get to me, when I cram too much into one day, when I carry out my good ideas in my own strength, when I don't read or meditate on God's word, when I hold resentment, unforgiveness and bitterness towards someone - then I lose my joy and can get grumpy. Then I know it's time to refuel again......

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think you can tell the difference between genuine joy and just a very positive, bubbly personality. However it can be hard for those who are struggling with difficult times where God seems far off and they feel rather dry and shrivelled up. We have to combine joy and sensitivity at these times.

    I don't think we should sit on the joy God gives us. As long as we never close our eyes to the hurts and sadnesses of others. Out of our own joy at knowing him should come compassion for others. Joy is a blessing.

    My intial reaction, on coming across your blog!

    ReplyDelete
  6. hello Lucy

    Lovely to "meet you" and welcome to the blog. The helpiworkwithchildren name doesn't relate to "HELP children are awful and so hard to work with" but "help i can't do this without you every single moment of every day God!" (I never planned to be a children/family pastor. Was quite happy in my settled and secure job, thank you very much)

    Thanks very much for your comments; very important ones to hear pastorally.

    ReplyDelete

In the words of Mrs Doyle in Father Ted, go on, go on, go on........

Leave me a wee message! Only rules - is it true, is it kind, is it necessary?