I sat waiting for my wife in the chiropractor’s lobby, struggling to breathe without fogging my glasses in my homemade mask. My wife has crafted hundreds of them over the past two months for healthcare professionals, family members and friends, and this particular version is my favorite. But a mask is still a mask, and I fought against anonymous frustration aimed at no one and nothing in particular as I contemplated my disdain for the term “new normal.” The Oldies radio station coming through the speaker system played Steven Tyler of Aerosmith belting out “Crazy.” My knee jerk reaction was to say aloud, “You’ve got that right!” Brimming with conflicting emotions tinged with a dark edge, I turned back to finish reading Matt Malone’s editorial in the latest edition of “America”—the Jesuit review of Faith and Culture:
“There is a serious joy deficit in both the church and the world these days. Some of the most visible Christians, for example, look as if they haven’t had a joyful thought in 10 years. That’s a big problem, for them certainly, but also because joy is what makes our witness credible, what changes the mode of the giver and receiver. Joy is what makes our faith attractive, even what makes it intelligible. Without joy, to paraphrase St. Paul, we are just clanging cymbals. To have Easter joy is to live each day in the knowledge that God broke into time and space; broke into our house while we were sleeping and sprinkled every room with a dust of eternity. Then He rose and left through the front door, which remains open for us to follow.”
I confess the temptation to choose the dark side, bolstering anger rather kindness, feeding angst over against peace. Anger is a choice; self-inflicted lesion that atrophies from the inside-out. The worst possible consequence is that I become a side-walking version of Winnie the Pooh’s Eeyore, a gloomy creature that repels rather than attracts persons to Christ. The antidote is joy. Joy is never self-serving; it abounds for the benefit of others. When I opt for selfless enduring adoration of Jesus Christ, He transforms my brackish cistern into an overflowing well to which others are compelled to approach seeking fresh water for themselves. Joy is to be the new normal for every Jesus follower.