In Defense of Joy

Coffeepastor started a recent post with a quote that ended thus, "Bonhoeffer wondered whether it is possible to embrace God out of love and lightness of heart, out of a seduction that is caught up in the call of God rather than the need of God." - Peter Rollins, The Fidelity of Betrayal

This talk of "love and lightness of heart" reminds me of a meeting I had with a Spiritual Direction group recently, where one person was sharing about newly found joy. The group kept asking questions until finally they came upon something in that person's life that was still painful, and *that's* when they felt like they had identified the part that was spiritual.

We need to start valuing joy. It's not just pain that's real. It seems to be broadly acknowledged that sharing painful experiences is an act of vulnerability, but I believe we have come to a place where sharing our joy also leaves us feeling exposed and uncertain. Our joys abide in the deepest parts of ourselves, and they're tender places. Will you treat my most valued things as precious, or will you dismiss them? Will you rejoice with me, or be threatened by what I've found?

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn," writes Paul in his letter to the Romans. Most of us know when to extend a tissue and a gentle word, but thanks be to God for the one who also knows when to join the laughter and dancing.


  1. Oh, you're so right...I think sometimes people are jealous when things go well and go to places like that spiritual direction group that squash other people's joy.

    My last director told me more than once: "Shield your joy."

  2. just read through your four recent posts. your writing shows a person unfolding with creation. Lovely.

    I recently started a blog about my job, which for the most part is a joy, and I senses some of the things you speak of in this post are true of what I am feeling about expressing my joy. Thanks

  3. I can tell writing is one of your joys...that's why I like stopping by here.


"So keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was."
-Saint Molly Ivins