Friday, Dec. 13 – Tara Evans

13 Dec

Friday, Dec. 13 – Joy

Today’s Scripture:
Psalm 43; 2 John 1:1-6

I’m no good at joy. It’s one of those holy expressions I’m not even sure I understand yet. You see, what I can’t understand, I usually don’t like. It’s a personality fault, if you will. For example, I don’t particularly want to talk to you about the stock market. To me, it looks like gambling for rich people. In the same way, the idea of joy (and the stock market until further notice) is something bigger than my brain.  I can’t reason it out. I can’t do enough research. In essence, I can’t control what joy is. That’s terrifying for me.

My meager definition of joy leans heavy on emotion and light on reason. And it’s the necessity of that emotional aspect that is personally difficult. Growing up in an unstable home with a manic-depressive parent taught me to literally fear emotional expression. Though I recognized what I saw as extreme, I learned that emotion was uncontrollable and unreasonable. Emotional expression was a weakness and a danger. I learned to hate it. And I became a bully to emotion. I loathed tears. Even extreme happiness was seen as a person’s inability to grasp reality. You shouldn’t be so happy if you understand all the sorrow and turmoil in the world. You wouldn’t be crying if you were strong enough to solve your own problems. I thought strong people, people you could trust and rely on, were emotional flat-liners.

But through the grace of God and the gift of liberation from that destructive family environment into several wise and giving faith communities, I’ve learned and am learning the good, relationship-building, truth-revealing ability to allow emotion.

I don’t mean to say “through the grace of God” because it’s churchy and people say it habitually. Truly and only through the grace, the “charis” in Greek, of God do we receive any joy, “chara”. I still do give joy a disservice by relying on the definition of my youth for it is so much more important than that. Joy is a result, a necessary expression, of receiving the grace of God. It is given to us in a packaged deal. You can’t just place an order for grace, hold the joy. By shutting it down, I neglect the sacrifice that was made for me, cheapen the thanksgiving that I offer, and isolate my whole person from my community and God.

Maybe your experience with joy doesn’t have extreme influences like mine, but I can testify to the fact that many of us don’t “get” joy. My words of encouragement for you and myself are to embrace the testimony of continual redemption. I will hopefully live the rest of my life relearning what is good. And what I’m learning about joy is that there’s a high level of abandon required in embracing and expressing joy. You must trust God that allowing joy doesn’t mean the blow of sorrow or pain will shatter your faith. You trust that you are secure when expressing joy in this world that force-feeds realism and faultless reason for everything. You trust that joy doesn’t make you weak.

In regards to this season, I send up a loud “hallelujah” at the inseparable connection between joy and Christmas. The birth of Christ is the most fantastical truth and the beginning of grace-filled joy. And we have to embrace it. Isn’t that beautiful? We are united in joy. In a conflicted world, the most cynical and serious Christian among us has to recognize that Christ came to this place in the most unreasonable, joy-inducing manner. Christian churches that disagree about everything believe in the arrival of Christ. A girl with emotional scarring and a skeptical disposition has to celebrate and be joyful that God saved us in the most serious expression of joy. It’ll just make you cry.

-Tara Evans

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2 Responses to “Friday, Dec. 13 – Tara Evans”

  1. Jane December 13, 2013 at 10:01 am #

    Oh Tara, this is so rich! Thank you for sharing with such vulnerability and thoughtfulness. I think we can all relate.

  2. Matt Renfer December 13, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

    I can really relate to this, Tara. Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

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