“As someone who studies shame and scarcity and fear, if you asked me, ‘What is the most terrifying, difficult emotion we experience as humans?’ I would say joy,” says Dr. Brene Brown.
How many of you as parents have ever watched your child sleeping and thought, “I love you like I never imagined possible,” and then in that split second pictured something horrific happening? Or have you ever thought, “Work is going good, holy crap, what is coming? It can be terrifying. Do you know what that is?
When we lose our tolerance for vulnerability, joy is foreboding. I’m not going to soften into joy because I’m scared it’s going to be taken away. Most of us try to beat joy to the punch because in the absence of vulnerability-joy is downright terrifying.
However, people that choose to live with great joy feel that same shudder of fear, but instead of rehearsing tragedy, they practice gratitude.
What does this have to do with Africa? Everything! The presence of God is joy. Project Canaan is the joy in the middle fo Swaziland. How do we describe what it is like there?
Poverty. Orphans. Starvation. Rape. HIV. JOY!
No one lives in denial that life is hard. And yet, rather than lamenting that there are problems, there is a faith that is pure and joyous, that is strong and evident in a land without distraction.
In America, we cannot determine the length of our life, our birth order or our health. In America, there is rape, starvation, and HIV, however, we live with distraction.
We live with the greatest distraction of all: control. We deny our vulnerability to death and despair under this false pretense that we can control the outcome of our lives through our work, behavior, and choices.
On Project Canaan, no one has a false illusion or distraction that we control our own lives. Only God. God is the supplier, the savior, and the hope.
In America, we crave more. We crave more friends, community, wealth, health and beauty because we misunderstand the source of joy.
What is Joy?
Joy is not the absence of pain and despair. It is the presence of God, acknowledging the beauty in the midst of pain and faith in the ultimate supplier. Joy is gratitude for knowing we have a Savior!
Africa’s greatest lesson to our team was JOY and FAITH…more on FAITH later…
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit,if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Philippians 2:1-2 NIV