Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Choice to Rejoice

If joy is a choice, why do we sometimes choose pity?
If we complain of our woes, why do we tend to nurture our misery?

I was very logical as a child--foolish because I usually spoke before thinking, but logical. I believed anything could be answered by reason. I remember thinking as a five year old: Every day I'm allowed to be happy or sad. Happy is fun. Sad is not fun. I will be happy every day.

Kind of wish I could maintain that mindset today without trying to work in other factors.

Here is where I am confused. I don't understand human nature. Someone hurts us and we milk it. We feed it with the pity we draw from others, though we claim we don't want their pity. We feed it with our minds, reading between lines, creating a worse case scenario, inventing percieved motives. We feed it by shutting out the world trying to convince ourselves that we deverve to be unhappy. We even go so far as to correct ourselves should we accidently portray joy during that brief moment when we forget our pain.

Someone said to me: "Sometimes, in or misery, we don't really even want to change; as painful as it is, the place where we are is our comfort zone, the place where we feel in control and secure because it has become familiar." I think there is a lot of truth in that.

Then consider the timing, the biggest discouragements tend to follow the greatest victories. Yes, I'm sure Satan has a part in it, but I'm not usually willing to give him too much credit--especially if I'm to blame. So what is it about our sin nature that makes us most susceptible to discouragement right after a spiritual high? The examples are all through Scripture (Elijah, David, Jonah, the children of Israel). I've experienced it myself. I just don't understand it.

3 comments:

kate said...

praise God we really do have the choice not to be stuck in it!

Chelsie said...

Heather,
Thanks for the thoughtful and honest post. Sometimes it's hard to see the purpose behind the pain. What an encouragement, however, to look back and see God's love and guidance throughout the entire situation!

gbfluteman said...

I know this doesn't answer your question, but I think it helps us to better understand a possible answer.

If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you asked almost any of the great Christians of old he would have replied, Love. You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative ideal of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire.

If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
- C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses, pp. 1-2 (cited in John Piper, Desiring God)