Your friend's life sucks: Are you bad for celebrating YOUR joy?
Updated: Dec 20, 2019
[AS USUAL, VIDEO READ ALONG WILL BE UPLOADED HERE SHORTLY]
This is the third week of Advent. I know some of you who have been keeping up with the series are like, "Uhm... Josh? Where is Advent Week 2?"
And to that, I say:
HO HO HO!! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!
Shoutout to everybody who knows why this is relevant.
But anyway, to the main point:
YOUR JOY IS MY DEMISE. TRUE OR FALSE?
The Advent celebrations so far are as follows:
Delores talks about this week's Advent topic, Joy, and the idea that we are supposed to celebrate the great things that have come to us before this season. That wasn't as deep as it went, though.
Pastor Delores brought up how difficult it can be for you to celebrate your own Joy out loud and not in the way that you are probably thinking.
Instead of considering it internally, picture this external mode of the concept:
You just moved into your new home; you closed last week, and you and your family are very excited about the area in which you live. You are much happier to go to work now because the commute has been whittled down to an acceptable 15 minutes versus previously having to commit to an egregious 50.
Your kids are in a neighborhood with child-friendly amenities and security that allows you not to have to coddle them as they venture off to meet new friends. You've mastered budgeting and are closer than ever to being totally debt-free.
Life is just perfect right now. You know hardships will come, but it simply cannot get better than at this moment.
Then, almost like a tornado fueled by grief and angst itself, you see your friend Sunday morning looking dispirited.
For the sake of this point, this week just happens to be during the third week of Advent.
In this week of Joy, you think about your perfect new home and neighborhood and job and new hobbies and family and all that jazz. However, you struggle to celebrate immodestly because you know, whether you want to or not, that your friend is genuinely struggling.
For reasons out of her control, she foreclosed on her home. She depleted her savings because she was laid-off a few months ago; bills have caught up with her.
She also had to sell her 2014 Mustang GTO, among other things that you remember were very important to her.
You can't help her because then it would put a strain on your own family. It seems her scenario is too dense for any of your efforts to have even made a dent, anyway.
Your friend genuinely does not resent you for this because they understand all the crap that they are going through right now. Somehow, they are also able to respect that it is not anybody else's fault, either.
There is no bad blood, and none can come from your celebrating. In your friend's time of need, the best you can muster is an "I will pray for you" or a "keep your head up, Sis."
You know how trivial those statements are, yet, you feel like it is necessary to say something. Instead of uplifting God for being kind to you, you opt-out of participating in this outward acceptance of your "fabulous" life in a likely futile attempt to preserve the feelings of your friend.
That scenario is a bit of an exaggeration, but the position is indisputable here. Whether you can help or not, people in your situation find it incredibly difficult to tell their friends, either directly or indirectly, about their Joys.
We shouldn't forget to think about the inverse, either, which regards those who ARE the friend who is suffering or recovering. When you are around your seemingly well-off peers, you hesitate to tell them about your crap from fear of being a "Debbie Downer."
It's never easy to talk about your struggles when everyone else is having a good time.
This issue subtly pushes towards another idea that actually is completely overlooked in the Joy week of Advent.
THE OTHER SIDE OF JOY
I think being able to communicate the antithesis of Joy is also just as important. It's almost like the concept of testimony.
Some old woman slowly meanders to the front of a congregation and grabs the mic. Like a choir, everyone concurrently sighs and says whatever curse words they can get away with saying under their breath without being damned to Hell.
However, once she's up there, she tells a story about how she wasn't cleared to receive her new hip replacement, so she was going to be bound to a wheelchair for the rest of her life.
Then she mentions that it was 2 years ago when her physician told her that, and then the crown naturally goes wild.
That moment right there expresses one of the hidden messages of this Advent week of Joy.
Yes, take your blessings and wave them in the air like you do your hands when you are near some woods in Charleston a couple of days after it rained, and mosquitos are pulled up out there trying to drive you to donate blood to their cause.
In fact, I say do it not only in the name of our Lord, but do it FOR your friend who is in need and struggling.
I believe that in expressing our delight for our blessings, it motivates and encourages our friends in their time of need. Unless they are envious, they should embrace this. (That's one of the "deadly 7," and at that point, they'd need to work on that themselves.)
I won't ever stop talking about Ahzon and Zonah on this series, and I don't care if you are getting tired of it. Seriously, they work for so many examples; I cannot help myself.
About 2 or 3 months ago - I cannot remember exactly - Dylan, Pastor Delores's oldest, told me that he and Breanna were baking up a bun, and I absolutely lost it. I was so happy for them.
Immediately after, though, Dylan told me that he had reservations about telling me that he and Breanna were pregnant because of the most recent loss from which Vee and I were healing.
He said that he felt bad for telling me but knew it couldn't NOT be communicated to me. I won't go on about how dope that is, but I will say this.
To compare to my earlier example, I was that friend who was foreclosed on the home, and Dylan was that guy who had just closed on his new home.
The only difference here is that Dylan knew somewhere in his mind that I wouldn't care about that. His mind wouldn't allow him to let me find out about their pregnancy other than from my brother from another mother.
I told Dylan just like I am telling you (paraphrased): "I PROMISE I didn't even think about Ahzon and Zonah when I saw that U-sound, bro."
That's weirdly tough for me to say because not a day went by that I wasn't thinking of those two meatballs after they died. However, I couldn't help but tease Dylan about how they said they weren't going to make a little DB in a long time, and then BOOM, here we are.
I was genuinely excited, and I can't conceive being provoked by that just because of my circumstances.
I am an excellent example of the fact that people who are dealing with crap can find Joy in other people's declaration of their own Joy.
It's a weird concept, but the point is to not use your sad sap friends as an excuse to discount your own happiness. Jesus blessed you with what you have. Don't squander the opportunity to brag, my friend. Because tomorrow, it could be gone before you get the chance to make someone else smile with your good news.
YOUR JOY MIGHT NOT EVEN BE YOURS
I do have one final note about Joy to wrap up the third week of Advent to help sum up what I think we can takeaway.
A good guess, regarding Joy, would be that maybe it wasn't even about you. Your Joy just might be another way for Jesus and God to show us their grace and mercy or whatever fancy words you have for it.
So if that's the case, I mean... you are like... Spiritually obligated to en-JOY your third Advent week.
Celebrate yourself out loud. Tell your friend about your new home. Heck, tell me about your new baby. Struggling doesn't mean losing. It just means living, right?
I know this one was a little wordy, but it was a really cool concept that I was able to pull from this week's sermon.
We only have one sermon left in Advent. So, either come to Blythewood COGOP at 1909 Lorick Road at 11 AM Sunday or watch Pastor Delores deliver her address on Facebook Live, which you can find every Sunday morning at 11 AM on our Facebook page.
Don't forget, I am pushing for someone to win this Chic Fil A gift card. So make sure you join the email list and the Facebook group so that you don't miss out on your chance for a free couple of lunches from your favorite chicken joint!
I know it's hard not to think of your celebrations as boasting, but come on... You gotta be thankful. Seriously, we have enough bad to think about in the world.
Give us something good to talk about.
Thanks for stopping by and hanging out with us in this chapter of Behind the Pastor.
Until next time, Cogopos.
May peace be with you,
Josh the Drummer