Tuesday evening I basked in the glow of my eldest daughter's success: she received a standing ovation in a packed hall for her documentary on civil rights in the Deep South. On Wednesday morning I contemplated my son's three failing class grades.
Early in the week a committee of nurses praised my commitment to making 2011 a great year. A few days later I was accused of trying to assassinate someone's good reputation and ruin their career.
It's no wonder my sinuses are acting up. It has been a week of extremes.
I am often stoic in times of great celebration. I am definitely NOT the one dancing on the table, or wearing a lamp shade. I suspect it is related to my unwavering belief that life tends to balance out; times of great joy are usually, in my experience, tempered with sorrow and loss. So when everyone is throwing their proverbial hats in the air, I am considering where the shoe will drop.
This isn't something I am necessarily proud of, nor recommend. I would much rather celebrate when celebration is due….yet when I look at the joy in the faces around me, my heart worries about sorrow like a parent for a child. I don't want their joy to end, but I know it will, eventually. Sorrow and suffering will come, as inevitably as snow in Buffalo. My heart longs to avoid it, alleviate its effect.
Sorrow and suffering are inevitable; I have intellectualized the opportunity they present for sanctification, but that cognitive understanding seems to waver in its journey to my heart. I envy those who embrace joy and pain with equanimity and poise, taking each for what they are worth.
My aunt once adopted a monstrously large dog who was as gentle as a lamb…unless you stepped on his paws. He was abused for much of his early life; his original owner beat his paws with a broom handle. He remembered that pain, and everyone had to respect that by walking gingerly. I suppose many of us are like that dog, nursing memories and holding on to fears.
I think it's time to loosen up a bit.
Jesus is about joy: a joy born of love, promise, and hope. Despite the pain and suffering so prevalent Jesus came to fill us with a joy so great that it elevates our sinful, distrustful natures to a greater plane, one marked by confidence in the promise and hope our faith guarantees. One that allows for rejoicing and celebration, no matter how extreme life can be.
As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. John 15:9-12Now, to get that down to my heart…