by Rev. Dr. Dale Azevedo, Sr. Minister
Sitting down to write my blog this week, I realize that I often write and preach about the challenges we face and not so much about the joys we experience. Yes, when discussing our challenges I generally do try to place a positive spin on them or be sure to bring faith into the discussion. But still, the general point is one of challenge and overcoming struggle. So, this week I have decided to write my blog about joy.
The reality is that I have many moments of joy that fill my days and weeks. I just don’t always give them the importance I ought. Sometimes these moments are profound experiences of recognition. But, more often they are subtle pauses of realization that things are “good.”
I would like to pay more attention to these moments and be sure to share them with others. It is far too easy to get bogged down in all that may be wrong with the world; like that is the way we are wired. Is there a way to change our wiring? I think there is. And that is by drawing specific attention to joy we feel when we feel it, and recall such feelings when we don’t.
One of the most regular times I experience joy is at the end of worship. It can happen during worship, but it comes more often in the moments that follow. One could say this is simply the relief of “making it through” what amounts to a very stressful time. (Yes, for those who lead worship it can be very stressful and anxiety provoking. Even after 30 years!) No doubt there is some sense of relief each week, but there is also often something more. There is a feeling of joy that comes from gathering as community, sharing a common experience, and uniting with one another and God. There is something deeply moving for me about coming together for an hour (or so) and being of one mind and one spirit. It is beautiful and joyous.
Another time I feel great joy is while stepping out into the sunshine. Granted this doesn’t happen in August when it is 93 degrees out, but just about the entire rest of the year these moments are a blessing that I recognize and celebrate. There is something that overcomes me when I step out of the house or office into the glorious sunshine of a warm morning or afternoon. If you are fortunate, you can sometimes catch me just walking around with my arms outstretched and my head inclined to the sky absorbing all the vitamin D I can get. It may be simple. It may seem foolish. But it is a joy that comes over me and I want to take it all in!
I also feel joy at the successful completion of a project well done. This can be designing a newsletter for a club or group I am involved with, finishing a repair on the Jeep, or even raking the yard like I did this past weekend. (Although, to be honest, yardwork seldom brings me this level of joy!) This experience of joy seems related to that which I mentioned above at the conclusion of worship. But this experience seems directly connected to a release of creativity. There is a problem that needs to be addressed. There are challenges that must be overcome. And creative solutions are used to achieve a desired result. This experience of creativity and success brings me joy.
I can think of other examples too, like reconnecting with family or friends, seeing my sports teams triumph, or even hearing the laughter of a small child. The examples can probably go on and on.
What brings you joy? Take a moment and really think about it. It’s easy to say we don’t feel joy or to come up with some basic platitudes. But instead, take some time and think of a few concrete examples of when you have found joy. Go way back if you need to. Because once you know what brings you joy, then you can either celebrate it or work to incorporate more of it into your life. That’s what I’m doing. That’s why I’m writing this blog now. Because I want to feel the joy I am writing about. Knowing what brings me joy and writing about it is actually bringing me joy. That’s awesome!
So, try not to get too bogged down in all that brings you down. God wants you to be aware of the suffering and hurt in the world. But God also wants you to partake of the joy and love present as well. It is one reason why we were created!