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Posts Tagged ‘joy’

by Rocky Glenn

An unexpected adventure found on a long night’s journey to observe the super moon although the intended destination was never reached, the unforgettable sensation of chills running down my arms when voices unite bringing the musical arrangements of my first Easter cantata to life, losing track of time when my newborn son opened his eyes and stared into mine as I spoke, the sweet contentment of my baby girl sitting on my lap while her favorite Disney princesses ice skate right by us, gazing into my wife’s eyes on our wedding day as I serenade her with a song written specially for the day . . .

Some of life’s greatest treasures are simply the moments we hold in our heart and reflect on, better known as memories. Memories are moments of time which made a mental impression upon us. At the time the impression is formed, we likely do not realize the images, emotions, sights, and sounds which are being recorded. Memories aren’t something you can force to happen. They form naturally and spontaneously with nearly no conscious effort on our part. Memories are formed when we learn to enjoy the moment.

Enjoying the moment can take many forms and does not necessarily mean a time of happiness, giddiness, and laughter. For the marching band students from my previous post, the director’s admonition to enjoy the moment certainly did not authorize them to be frivolous and silly during their performance. His words served as a reminder and encouragement to simply say, “You’ve prepared. You’ve put in the blood, sweat, and tears required to get you here. Now, relax, give it all your all and do what you know to do.” He was telling them to be present in this moment and experience it as it happens with joy, pleasure, and satisfaction.

To better understand this concept, it’s important to know the difference between happiness and joy. Though similar, the two emotions differ based on their source and where they originate. Happiness relies on external factors such as circumstances, events, and even other people. Happiness can be fleeting: here one moment, gone the next. Joy is lasting and is found internally. It resides in controlling what you can and letting go of what you can’t. Joy comes in knowing who you are and accepting who you are. Defined biblically, joy simply means a calm delight. This is the message the band director was trying to convey. Remain calm and delight in this moment and the memory will form itself.

Despite the moments listed above, some memories do not become enjoyable until we view them in the future as reflections of the past. To label those moments as bad memories is a disservice. I believe this is where the pleasure and satisfaction part of enjoying the moment applies. Even in times of unhappiness, pain, and sorrow, it’s possible to reside in a state of calm delight. No one enjoys times of loss and suffering, yet during those times some of our most treasured memories are formed. I was five years old when I lost my grandfather in South Carolina, yet no one will ever be able to steal the moment I crawled up on his hospital bed and kissed him on the cheek and said, “I love you, Papa,” for the final time although he was already gone. Twenty-seven years later I stood beside my mother in the emergency room as we now said goodbye to her dad, and he drew his final breath. Those moments were crushing and heart-breaking to live through but looking back I value each of those moments as both honored and sacred moments.

If I’m being honest, since I set out on this path a couple of weeks ago of examining what it means to enjoy the moment, I have encountered just as many moments I wished to run away from as I sought to enjoy. On many occasions I’ve neglected the notion of being present in the moment as I’ve longed for an escape. I will share more about that next time as I discuss why we don’t often enjoy the moment and what keeps us from doing so. In the meantime, I encourage you to take time to read this tale from three years ago of my family’s experience of attempting to enjoy the journey of going on vacation.

Rocky

More posts in the Enjoying the Moment series:

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by Rocky Glenn

As I shared in You Are Not Alone, since my recovery from being a churchboy began, I have encountered countless others that are walking a similar path.  I’ve since learned this path has been given the term “deconstructing.”  I heard it said just a couple of days ago that deconstructing your faith has now become the fashionable or “in” thing to do.  Although I can look back over the past four to six years and say I have definitely been deconstructing my faith, in my four decades of life I have never been one to do something just because it’s considered fashionable, popular, cool, or the latest trend.  (That’s not because I refuse to follow the crowd, part of being a churchboy is being so opposite and opposed to popular culture that you aren’t accepted as part of that crowd!!)

On several occasions in the gospels, Jesus tells us that if one seeks to save or keep his life he will lose it but if he loses his life he shall save it.  Although I did not realize it at the time this journey began, losing my life is exactly what has been going on with me.  It’s been a journey of questioning what I’ve known since a child and seeking answers for why as Christians we act certain ways and do (or more specifically don’t do) certain things, at least in public where others will see!  The ironic and upside down part of all this is I thought that by living the churchboy life, I had chosen to lose my life.  After all, I played by all the rules, said all the right things, and played the part as well as any human could.  In fact, in losing my life being a churchboy, I had lost so much life if it weren’t for the fact that I was conscious and breathing, I don’t even know if you could say I was living!  Life was a constant pressure cooker of looking the right way, saying the right thing, not giving the appearance of evil, not judging that person, not saying what you think, and definitely not letting anyone know you were human!  After all, we must be perfect because our Father in heaven is perfect (Perfect Imperfection). The sad part about this is I thought that was the best life anyone could ever live.

It all changed when I learned God loved me.  Oh yeah, the churchboy knew that Jesus had died for me and I was going to heaven when I died because I had my “fire insurance” and had asked Him to forgive my sins, and He lived in my heart, but there was no way he actually loved me.  I mean, sure, He would love me if I became what He wanted me to be, but there was no way He loved me as I was.  I had more scriptures to memorize.  I had a ministry to build.  I had souls to save.  There was work for the kingdom that must be done and I was the one who must do it!  What a load of garbage!  I have lost that life, if that’s what you can really call it.

Losing that life means life now looks a lot different for me than before.  Life is now about losing those rules and lists of do’s and don’ts that religion forces upon you and tells you must stay within in order to be accepted.  Losing my life means I’ve lost the need to try to become acceptable because I know I’m already accepted.  Losing my life means I’ve lost the need to try and change to be loved because I’m already loved.  (For more on this, see He Still Loves Me.)

Matthew 16:25 says, “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.”  By living the churchboy life and trying to do it on my own, I was trying to hang on to my life and didn’t even realize it.  So, when I realized how much He truly loved me, there was nothing I could do to ever change that, and He loved me as I am and not for who He wanted me to be, I gave up my life.

How has this saved my life?  Life is now about living in His love and sharing that love with others.  At home, at work, in traffic, waiting in line at the grocery store, dealing with the server at the restaurant who has clearly had a rough day, every situation is an opportunity to share that love.  It doesn’t require a sermon.  No scripture verses or references have to be mentioned.  In fact, you don’t even have to mention God or Jesus at all.  It can be as simple as a smile, as kind as looking someone in the eye and asking how they are doing, as pleasant as a gentle answer.  Love looks a lot like generosity and kindness.  Love gives without seeking anything in return.  Love is for the benefit of others.  Saving your life in this manner produces peace, joy, and freedom that can only be described when you experience it yourself.

To tell you that I have truly mastered this and express love in every interaction and live constantly in that peace, joy, and freedom would be just another futile attempt of the churchboy in saving my life and making myself appear as something I am not, but I will strive daily to continue losing my life and finding it in His love.

Rocky

(This post originally written January 28, 2018.)

 

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