Friday, March 30, 2012

Authentic Joy

Lord, don't ever let me grow comfortable.

I've seen what happens when people grow comfortable, and there are really two big categories of behavior.

There are the people who grow so comfortable that they forget the magic. They forget the love they once had for something because the passion becomes the routine. The magic becomes mundane. The joy and the wonder and the awe become the everyday, the have-to, and the plow-through.

Then there are those who grow so comfortable they become sarcastic or cynical about the whole thing. I think this happens a lot in families - you hang around each other so much that you get the fake name-calling, the pretending not to like people, the "say it with a smile and you can be as mean as you want" kind of attitude. It happens in communities, too. In work and in service and in groups and just about everywhere. One eye-rolling answer to one question turns the whole attitude of the place.

"You having fun?"

No, not at all.

That's the answer. It doesn't have to be that question; it doesn't have to be that answer. But it's always something like that. Then, somehow, everyone turns and gets the same sarcasm, the same cynicism. Before you know it, every interaction is defined by this unwillingness to be enthusiastic about anything and it drains the authenticity from the situation. Even when you think you know the heart of the presence in the room.

I have been as good as anyone at this in my life. With projects. With people. After awhile of talking this way, of answering people with the expected surreptitious answer instead of an enthusiastc, honest drains on you. You start to say things like "I have to..." and mean it. The thing you were once so passionate about becomes that dreaded have-to, plow-through, nothing special chore. And in terms of people, you lose the love there, too. You can only call someone a buttwad so many times until it loses all humor and they really are just a buttwad. (Anyone else got brothers?)

Because of the sarcastic answers, the cynic in you grows and you're surrounded by this beige world with nothing really to hold onto.


I have been as good at this as anyone because it was dominant culture growing up. I don't want to say growing up outside of the church, though I certainly think this had some part in the crudeness of the culture. But I have seen the same things in churches, so I know this is a widespread attitude.

It took a lot of years, and it has only been in the past few that I've seen something different. Another way, if you want to go so far. Because on the other side of this authenticity. And the sad part is that even the cynics are secretly excited; they have just lost the way to express it.

There is this profound sense on my heart that the sarcasm has to stop. The building of cynics is tearing us down. How do I know? Because in one quiet moment (and in many quiet moments since), God has been whispering to me about this. He's changed the way I talk, the way I act, the way I respond.

I think it would be awesome if we could all embrace the magic again. If we could get in touch with the mystery and with our passions and with our loves. If we could build each other up instead of tear each other down (even while hoping they know we're "only teasing"). If we could throw ourselves into our work - whether it is work we are paid for or just something we pick up on the side, our hobby or our craft, whatever it is - instead of barreling through. It's like we work just to get the project done so that we dont' have to think about it any more and don't have to hide our excitement, lest we get embarassed by our enthusiasm.

There's something authentic in pushing the biting aside and just living the joy. Holding the holy. Remembering the moment. Doing what we love - and saying so. Sharing our energies. Getting each other pumped up. Getting ourselves pumped up.

God isn't in the sarcasm. He doesn't care of the *wink* *wink* *nudge* *nudge* that our words, our attitude, and our presence isn't what it seems to be; He doesn't want us to live with a world we hope knows we care when we aren't acting a whole lot like we do. He wants us to live by that energy and go full-boar (with the ravenous, headstrong, steadfastness of the wild animal) and not settle for full-bore (the mundane).

Wouldn't it be cool if we could live authentically? If we could call each other out - hey, brother! hey, sister! - instead of calling each other down - hey, buttwad!? If we could look at each other, look at our lives, put our hands to it, and then when someone asks, "Hey, you having fun?" we could answer:

Absolutely! This is incredible!

I just think it would be nice to spread some authentic joy for awhile. To be gentler with ourselves, with our passions, with our friends, family, neighbors, and community. I just think it would be cool....

So I want every moment to be new, and I want to know it as such. I want to thrive, to take each breath with a glimpse to the heavens, and to just live this life unfolding. I want the wonder to stay. I want the magic to take hold of my heart. I want the mystery of the universe to keep me energized and engaged.

So Lord, please don't ever let me grow comfortable.

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