The saying: Practice what you preach has become quite the bane of my existence this past year and a half since I began preaching. After delivering a sermon I’ve prepared and prayed over and life happens, I discover all the ways I could benefit from practicing what I preach.
This realization has hit me upside the head in recent weeks, particularly around the concepts of abundance, joy, and freedom. These comforting and wonderful ideas feel good when they slide off my tongue on a Saturday night. They appear at first so nice and simple, a reprieve when compared to life’s complexities. But I quickly find abundance, freedom, and joy are fierce and worth fighting for.
Living into abundance, for me, has not happened over night. Nor have I arrived. It’s a daily choosing. We live in a society conditioned toward scarcity. Christianity (as Paula often discusses with the other desert religions: Judaism and Islam) is a religion bent upon scarcity. Our nation is also bent upon scarcity. And when you have a small contingent with too much and a large contingent with too little, we all desperately want to protect that which we’ve worked hard to earn. It’s not wrong. It just is. So moving into abundance requires we press into difficult spaces of seeing things as they are, bumping us up against our fear.
Living into freedom has is also much easier said than done. In my quest for freedom from fear I still like awake at 3:00 AM more nights than I care to admit expecting some terrible event or another. In my desire for freedom from inadequacy I run countless scenarios of how I could’ve done things better rather than accepting what is and offering apologies and forgivenesses. In my letting go of a demanding god bent upon my performance rather than my being, I have had to enter the wilderness on a quest to exorcise my demands for comfort and certainty.
And finally, living into joy. This one’s the biggie for me. I’m not sure we can love well without joy. And joy, she can be so nebulous. She hides from view until that just right moment when she descends like a glitter bomb and colors the world in majesty. And the trick with joy, when she shows up, is to not rationalize her away because of our fear. Brene Brown calls this foreboding joy, stating that “Joy is the most vulnerable emotion we experience”. This explains why we oftentimes send her away. We don’t like to be caught off guard.
I do commit to practicing what I preach. There will never be perfection, but there will be humility and honesty. It is an honor to be one of your preachers. It’s a job I never thought I’d be doing, but it is a true joy.