I’ve been choosing sorrow over joy a lot lately. It grew with ISIS. Really. That stark reminder of evil took center stage in what is true about life. It opened the door to other negative truths in my smaller story: a loved one with a mental illness, a friend plagued by cancer and endless chemo treatments, someone else I care about living in the denial and hell of addiction, friends who have lost their children, strained relationships…and then back to the world stage with Ferguson, Missouri, Chicago, Israel, the Gaza Strip, Russia…
To move toward joy has taken a collision of joy with sorrow. Life pours on us beautiful joy and deep sorrow. This whole fabulous ice bucket challenge has thrown some ice water on me. Each person who posts a video as ice water is being dumped on him or her seems joyful. The fun of participating in something bigger than ones self, combined with the novelty of doing something silly, transforms each video posted, into a small party. And yet the cause that has brought each person individually and collectively into this current rage known as the ice bucket challenge, is the goal of eradicating one of the most horrific diseases on the planet. A collision of joy with sorrow.
I attended a particularly joyful wedding last week. Yes, the average wedding deserves the adjective joyful but this wedding, oh my, this wedding.
The vows written by this couple were transcendent. Transcend: to go beyond limit, surpass something, be independent of the world. This couple so identifies with Christ that the words of their hearts’ pledge to one another were independent of the world and dependent on a God who is beautiful, wild, trustworthy, and worth celebrating for eternity.
The setting was gorgeous. The ceremony took place on a green expanse of grass with a forest of pine trees as the backdrop. The reception took place behind this expanse of grass on a deck built off of a barn and overlooking a pasture. Three horses occupied the pasture. Yes three. For those of you who know God, three is a beautiful number: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. At one glorious point during the reception one of the horses decided to celebrate with us. She ran, full speed, along the fence that separated us and then as she turned to go back through the meadow to the other two horses, she threw herself into the air. We all hooted and hollered and threw our arms up with joy. It would have made a great scene in a movie. But it wasn’t a movie. It was real life.
We ate our wedding feast and then we danced. First, as is the custom, the bride and groom danced alone. Their dance was done joyfully, seductively, coyly, and with abandon. And then, the great company of witnesses joined them on the dance floor. And on every face I saw overwhelming joy. We had all abandoned the sorrows of this world and succumbed to joy.
I’m into definitions today. A few definitions of “Abandon” as a verb:
- renounce something
- leave somebody behind
- leave place because of danger
- halt something in progress
- give in to emotion
And a definition of “Abandon” as a noun:
- lack of restraint
That’s what I need to get my joy back – a life of abandon. I renounce that sorrow is the truest thing in my life. I leave the story Satan’s trying to write for me behind. I will not sit in the dangerous place called sorrow. By the power of He who is in me, I am able to halt, stand and resist, the lies of hopelessness. I give in to God, the source of the emotions of joy and love and hope. I abandon myself to my God who has promised me that in all things we are more than conquerors through him who loves us. With you, God, I want to lack restraint.