Joseph and I watched the Brené Brown Netflix special The Call to Courage last night. She is an insightful, funny teacher and speaker. Her research and books opened my eyes to several important concepts about shame and vulnerability. Last night, she said something that really caught me:
Joy is probably the most vulnerable emotion we experience in our lives.
She went on to speak about our habit to take in moments of joy by practicing for tragedy. We feel good, are excited, experience soul-lifting happiness and the very next moment we “ground” that feeling by rehearsing the loss and pain that will come when something inevitably goes wrong.
I deal with this a lot.
I am far better at sitting with someone through pain and suffering than I am at displaying my own happiness. Giddiness is pretty off-limits. And joy. I tend to rationalize my inability to connect with joy by falling back on the ole standby: Joy is a choice and not based on emotions. This allows me to safely navigate difficult moments when I feel overwhelmed with delight. I can remain collected and tell myself that I’m choosing joy in order to hide the fact that I’m utterly out of place when it comes to elation.
But I don’t want to live in this place.
Brené says the antidote for disconnection during moments of profound joy is gratitude. Without exception, all the people she interviewed who were fully invested in happy moments did so through acknowledging gratitude for that moment. They are able to be thankful that right then they are at peace, reunited, in love, enjoying their job, fulfilling a dream… and what may come along to spoil any of that is still in the future and unknown to them. So, they don’t court it. They don’t waste the moment of euphoria in contemplation over losing it.
Jesus has walked faithfully by my side from the very first day of our nightmare to this present moment. He will remain with me. I can be thankful to Him for that and not fear the pain that comes when jubilation turns to mourning. Dance now while the celebration lasts.