A Kind Invitation to Joy and Gratitude

I read a book recently called, “The Unhurried Life: Following Jesus’ Rhythms of Work and Rest”. In the book, the author poses this question, “When we reach the end of this earthly journey, what will we look back on with joy and gratitude?….Becoming an apprentice of Jesus is a lifelong journey. He will use every day of my life to transform me, inside and out, using whatever life-giving ways he wants to use” (pg.36). This question forced me to do an honest audit of my activities and their effects on my inner-life. What sort of life-giving ways of being am I prioritizing over destructive and absent minded activity? I was not happy with what I saw.

My life is in no shortage of busyness and certainly no excess of “life-giving” activity. I work full-time at a graduate school. I’m a graduate student. I’m a resident for my M.Div (8 more hours of work a week outside of my job/school). I’m a husband with a child under one. And I am committed to serving and being involved in my church.

Due to the chaos of my schedule and demands of my various responsibilities, I self-medicate through addiction to media and technology. These mediums offer a superficial transcendence by escaping from the “mundaneness” of my day and serve as a sort of quasi-scape-goat to get distracted with various commentators, personalities, and current-events. I do all of this in order to keep me from asking myself hard questions–or from simply being forced to be present. My face is always in my phone and my social media apps dominate my data usage. Facebook and Twitter constantly have an open tab on my internet browser and my evenings are spent consuming the latest angsty news-satire program (I’m a HUGE John Oliver fan). My addictions to scrolling, connection, and superficial-distraction, have served as a sort of sinister kindness to my overwhelmed and worn-out soul. What ways of being-in-the-world will I look back on with joy and gratitude? What modes of being promote emotional wellness, presence, joy, and attentiveness to the Holy Spirit’s activity in my life? These media outlets are too loud and it’s time to cut out the noise.

SO.

I’m going on a year long social-media and TV fast. Apps are deleted. And my phone will go in a basket by the door when I get home from work.

This is my last year of seminary and I am currently praying about beginning the discernment process for ordination in the Anglican Church of North America. I have a lot to look forward to in these coming months and I don’t believe the extra noise is a healthy distraction, or a life-giving source of comfort. When I reflect on a life of joy and gratitude, I envision writing more, reading more, laughing with my son, making dinner with my wife, and hosting friends in my home. Cut out social media and actually spend time being social–what a concept! I’m sick of being angry and generally unhappy (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram will do that to you). Time for a change.

I’m planning a blog series on my exploration of the Anglican world and my hopes for future ministry endeavors. Feel free to follow my journey and comment here as I write about my experiences! Call, text, or email. Let me make you dinner and not just banter with you online. I want to live a life full of joy and gratitude this upcoming academic year.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells His disciples that He is the “true vine” and to “abide in the vine”. I’m incredibly interested in a life that abides in the life-giving love of the Trinity. I know it isn’t one spent with your nose in a phone or scrolling through your Twitter feed. Hopefully I will get some more clarity on what that life looks like.

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2 thoughts on “A Kind Invitation to Joy and Gratitude

  1. What a great post. I applaud your willingness to not only take some time for self-reflection but to set a goal of refocusing your priorities. I have thought for a long time that one of the great things lacking in the growing process of most people is self-reflection. You are willing to not only examine but change what needs to be changed . . . and that’s tough to do. I will be praying for you and hope to here how this “unfriending yourself” goes. God’s blessing Kris to you and your family.

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Joe! It is a “unfriending” process indeed! I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. I get the feeling that my generation will have to reckon seriously with digital media and its formative power in our lives and its destructive tendencies toward our discipleship to Jesus. I’m excited to embark on this year of freedom and see what’s in store.

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