Don't Be Talked Out Of Your Joy
When I was in middle school my football team won the state championship for our school association in Colorado. I was a starter and played tight end and defensive back.
Now I'm not one to brag, but... I was pretty good. I caught a handful of TD passes and ran for a couple more over the course of that season, and added a few interceptions as well. I loved playing football.
We moved the next year to a new state, and I was quickly recruited by my new classmates to join the high school football team, which I gladly did. Because I loved playing football.
And then I didn't love it so much anymore.
My coaches the previous year in my old school were tough, fair, encouraging, and they knew how to coach kids well. The coaches on my new team were tough, but that's all they had in common with my former coaches. They sucked the joy for the game right out of me.
I remember one practice, an assistant coach (who was the angriest, meanest Baptist I've very met) picked up a piece of 2x4 that was lying on the ground and hit a kid in the head, knocking him down.
I never played football again after that year.
This morning I was reading from Jeff Tweedy's excellent little book, "How To Write One Song," and I read this bit of incredible insight:
That’s one of the problems with humans—that we can be talked out of loving something. That we can be talked out of loving something that we do, and we can be talked out of loving ourselves.
Looking back, I see now so clearly how I let those coaches talk me out of loving something that had brought me so much joy in the past. I have learned to give my teen-aged self a lot of grace about that, though.
The lesson that I'm reflecting on today about that loss of joy is one that I find I still haven't learned all that well. I constantly let myself get talked out of my joy because I worry far too much about critiques and criticisms.
And truth be told, I talk myself out of joy more often than not, because I'm my own worst critic.
So many of us were told at some point that we weren't enough... or we allowed ourselves to be influenced by the dysfunction of others... or we give the negative voices in our lives too much air time in our head.
If you love what you do, and it brings you joy---don't let that joy be stolen from you. Hang on to it for dear life, and guard it against the negative voices, and even from your own inner critic.
What you will discover is that even in the most inhospitable circumstances, your love for what you do, or for what brings you joy (or both) will sustain you in ways that will surprise you. You will discover a new capacity for flourishing even in the midst of hardship.
In the end, you are playing only to an audience of One---the One who created you and imbued you with the passions that drive you and make your heart sing.
May it be so for you today and every day. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.
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