One thing I have learned as I get older it is easy to lose sight of what actually brings joy and happiness. Though I consider myself a generally happy persons there are times when I struggle with the darkness of depression, and that often can become overwhelming. The problem when I get depressed often centers on a disconnect from what makes me happy.
For me, I am most happy when I am out of my space observing the awe and wonder of this world, learning about others and myself, and creating. I know this is what attracts me to religion and to being a pastor. Since we have neither the time nor the ability to fully comprehend God and His creation, I get to be in a perpetual state of awesome wonder when I see and begin to understand God, but often that also points me in the direction of asking more questions, which allows the cycle to continue.
Feeling a bit overwhelmed, as every pastor does close to the holy days, I was ready to take a break and reconnect to the faith. This year I decided to follow the Monty Python Line “And now for something completely different!” Not really having a desire to go anywhere, I spent the week on a tour of golf courses around the area. It was interesting, especially since I had not even touched my clubs in over 8 years!
While I was in North Carolina and Iowa, I would go golfing quite frequently. Though I never came close to mastering the sport (or even being average). The thing that I like about golf is my ability to practice patience, focus, redemption, and grace. For me, these are four of the most crucial elements of a successful practice of faith. I also think they are four crucial elements of a healthy and happy life.
Think about it for a moment. How happy are your when: you are running around all the time; or forcing something that is not going to happen to happen; or never forgiving the mistakes you made; or not allowing you to love yourself?
So this past week I stopped and tried (though at times very poorly) to find patience, focus, redemption, and grace. Interestingly, in doing so I found a joy that went deeper than some Hallmark greeting; I was able to touch that place where I was able to see and understand where and how God is in my life and where God was calling me to be.
I know it is a lot to put on something like golf, but to be honest, golf had nothing to do with it. Golf like many things was not what brought joy into my life, but it served as a catalyst to see and understand where I might reconnect with joy. So by picking up something that by its very nature if frustrating and difficult, I found the refreshing joy and peace that everyone seeks from a good vacation. But this time I found something more, I really reconnected with God and saw how much a part of my life He is.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen