This is part four of the five part series, "Barriers to Joy" by Rev. Dr. Trey Kuhne, LMFT. This series takes a closer look at the things that interfere with the active, intentional experience of joy in our lives. Here is Part Four:
To date, I have introduced three key barriers to the experience of joy in our lives spiritually, physically, and psychologically. One was the lack of recreation in one's life. I spoke of how recreation is actually re-creation and we are refreshed, encouraged, and built up in times of recreation in all three areas of the self (body, mind, and spirit). The second barrier is anger, that inward emotion that slowly eats away at the heart and the mind after a hurt has been experienced and which robs us of the experience of joy in our lives. The third barrier to the experience of joy in our lives is when we feel as if our identity in Christ has been lost or is no longer secure, when we forget whose we are. We can find that trust and security Christ and in our marriages.
A fourth barrier to the experience of joy in our lives is loneliness or the mentally intrusive thoughts that one is not needed or loved. Most everyone has experienced the feelings of loneliness at different places in their lives, that sense of emptiness that somehow seems so deep nothing could fill it. Whether experienced in the death of family or friends, loss of job, marital divorce, or personal problems, loneliness enters in to take control over the mind and heart. With loneliness come its partners in crime: depression, fear, anger, resentment, frustration, the “I am the victim” syndrome, as well as a host of other problems.
The main problem with this 4th barrier is that, in spiritual and psychological reality, it is an untruth. We are neither alone nor not loved. There are numerous scriptures that each speak to God's continual Presence in our lives and His oversight and leading. Though we may experience times in our lives where God doesn't seem to intervene enough to protect us or keep us from our own consequences, all of scripture support God's Promises of continual relationship with us as believers in Christ. Even for those who have no living family members, God has placed caring and loving people in your path. We each have persons involved in our lives who reach out to us in love and care.
The sense or feeling of loneliness can be overpowering and even debilitating to the Christian believer. It is here that the fellowship of believers can be its most valuable. The assembled congregation is not just for weekly worship. The assembled congregation is for relationship with God and with one another. That was the model of the early home churches and that similar concept is seen in the ministry of small groups today. There are organized small groups in our church where these relationships can be formed.
It is sometimes difficult to find those who are lonely and connect with them. They hide really well because they are us. But they are indeed in our midst, persons of great faith and great hope who struggle with those inward feelings that they are no longer needed, wanted, nor loved. Friends, believe the Good News of the Gospel: You are loved, cared for, and you are not alone. God is there and so are His servants, ready to love and be loved.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Trey Kuhne is a pastoral counselor and licensed marriage and family therapist with Pathways Pastoral Counseling located at St. Christopher's Episcopal Church, 400 Dupre Drive, Spartanburg, SC 29307. He specializes in working with individuals, couples and families. Call (864) 542-3019 for an appointment. He may be reach via email at: [email protected].