First of all, if you haven’t read yesterday’s post about overdependence, I encourage you to do so. I made myself vulnerable for that post because even though it may not be a very happy subject, I think it’s something that needs to be talked about! And it’s close to my heart. Although most of my posts are pretty light, joy isn’t always easy, is it? For example…
Have you ever been around someone who is a chronic complainer? It seems like all they can do is complain. Or maybe they’re not only a complainer but an out-doer, and if someone else has a complaint, they have to come up with a reason why what they’re enduring is even worse. Your back hurts? Mine’s been hurting for the past week. Long day at work? Just wait till you hear about mine. They said what to you?! Wait till you hear what they said to me! (On an unrelated note, if you want to hear something funny about out-doers, click here for a hilarious Brian Regan sketch.) You get the point. And I’m sure you know someone like that. Personally, I dislike out-doers, and complainers drain me, so being around someone who’s both makes me crazy.
So what do you do when you’re surrounded by it? When it seems like the status quo is to complain and whine and feel miserable? Maybe it’s your workplace, or your school, or your family gatherings. But wherever it is, when you’re there you feel like you fit right in with them, and you leave feeling drained. Or maybe you hate every moment of it, and you’re begging to tell them all to shut up and be grateful. What do you do in those situations? Seems to me, you have 3 options:
- If you can’t beat em, join em. Might as well just feel miserable like everyone else, because that’s how it’s done around here. We’re annoyed with customers, with that boss, the unfair professor, with Aunt Betty or Cousin Dave. If you don’t, you’re obviously weird, or annoyingly optimistic. Please, quiet down unless you have something unconstructive to say. You’re killing the grumpy atmosphere.
- If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the farmhouse. (Anybody else here watch Muppet Family Christmas? If not feel free to substitute the word kitchen instead of But I digress.) Seriously, the people here are crazy. I need out. This is where you quit your job, switch schools, or pack your favorite stuffed animals and a few pop-tarts and run away from home. I think they actually made a movie about this, circa 1939. To do this properly, please live in tornado alley and wear a blue gingham dress.
- If you’re happy and you know it… or, there’s always that glittering option of being the voice of positivity. The light in the darkness. The hope hanging out with all the naysayers. The city on a hill. The… oddball.
So, which to choose? Unless my satire and sarcasm got lost in the blogosphere somewhere while they were being transmitted from me to you, I think I probably made the option clear. But for the sake of clarity, let me lay it out for you here:
#1 is a great option, if you don’t mind being miserable. Seriously, though, this is probably the easiest way to go—until you’re so exhausted from living in misery that you can’t find the fun in life anymore. From someone who’s been there, trust me, this will happen. Eventually you’re not just complaining to fit in, but complaining because, gosh darn it, what is there to be happy about?! And then you become an absolute joy (sarcasm) to those around you, even if they have nothing to do with the original source of misery. This ends up with you draining the life out of everyone else, and having a hard time just enjoying life. Please, don’t do this. Trust me.
#2 is a solid choice, as long as you’re running away to a deserted island where even the voices in your head won’t follow you. Let’s be honest, no matter where you go, humans are humans. You’re going to run into negativity and grumpy people will be there. Because we live in a fallen world, unfortunately. Also, didn’t Dorothy do enough learning for all of us? What she really wanted was in her own backyard. Don’t let Dorothy’s fight with the wicked witch be for naught.
#3… the hardest choice. I’m being honest, because we all know that being the only one not fitting in with the negativity is hard. But we have this JOY that cannot be contained! It’s bursting out of us! Even when our boss is a jerk, the professor is unfair, Uncle Merle is annoying the heck out of everyone, and that customer just treated me like dirt. We have a joy that is uncontainable, overflowing, cannot stop, must get out. That’s what living in Christ looks like. Does it mean you have to be annoying or sicky-sweet to counter balance the negativity? No. It means being a beacon of hope so that the people around you can believe that life really might not be as bad as they thought. Where do you need to bring the beacon of joy and hope to this week?
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” –Matthew 5:14-16 NIV
“Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” –1 Peter 1:8-9 NIV
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This post is a part of the series “31 Days of Finding Joy”. Interested? Click here!