As I was scrolling through Facebook, I saw another post that dripped with racism. I immediately began typing out a reply. My reply was well reasoned and without love.
My response, which luckily I did not send, was fueled by rage.
Professor Kenneth V. Hardy, writes, "Rage builds over time as a result of cumulative suppressed emotions precipitated by voicelessness.” I don't think I can claim that I am voiceless, but my rage has been building as the continual onslaught of evil rubs against my raw emotions.
Every news cycle brings another story of pain and suffering. As I scroll through any of my numerous social media platforms, my friends and family members' hateful posts leave me furious at the enemy that has captured so many with the allure of hate.
My raw emotions respond to pain, frustration, and anger. But worse, they convince me that I am the savior and that God is just waiting for me to type out the perfect comment to bring an end to all of the noise. My sense of self -importance has left me exhausted. My daughter woke up giggling one morning. As our little family of four giggled in bed, I thought how perfect. At that moment, I felt unimportant. I couldn’t feel the weight of the world sitting on my shoulders. The laughter seemed to be a salve for my soul, almost like each giggle healed, my frayed my nerves. Those silly moments provided a moment for me to laugh at myself.
Martin Luther wrote, "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." The devil cannot bear to be made fun of because he takes himself so seriously! He bristles at laughter." When we start to take ourselves too seriously, we begin to imitate that characteristic.
Believing that we are important, leaves no room for anything else. And so we get angry when people and God start encroaching in our space. But when we allow ourselves to laugh, to take a step back, and not to take ourselves so seriously, we start to give the world back to Jesus. We trust him to take care of the world so that we can choose joy. I realize how naïve I sound, especially as a middle-class white woman. Many problems that cannot be pushed aside with laughter. I can’t imagine the stress that the fear of deportation creates in many of our undocumented neighbors. The evilness of racism hangs like a cloud over many of our brothers and sisters.
In the face of evil, choosing joy is not a trivial choice. It’s instead a defiant act. To choose to let our joy pierce the darkness is to say to evil, that this is not its ground to take.
Joy is a choice. We can choose to delight. Delight in the world around us. Delight in what Jesus has given us. Delight in who we are as God’s children, blessedly unimportant but made important by his love for us. Joy allows us to tell evil; I will not partake in your version of the world. It allows us to say; I choose to believe in God’s reality, where even the evilest things are already defeated. Choosing joy is not trivial but essential to pushing back the destructive and divisive nature of evil. When we choose joy, we are choosing to believe in God. Because according to the Blessed Columbia Marmion, “Joy is the echo of God’s life in us.” Our joy shines a light into all the evil, especially when we choose joy when the rest of the world is choosing to hate. So today, I’m going to choose joy. I’m going to turn off my source of news, I’m going to ignore the latest update on the various issues that I honestly care deeply about, I’m going to give my emotions a rest, and I’m going to choose joy. I’m going to choose to see the world the way it is – a world where the goodness of God’s kingdom is piercing through - and I’m going to laugh and celebrate with God over that truth. The world and its problems will be there tomorrow. But if I choose joy today, I can face them with God tomorrow.