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For the Love of Joy: Finding Your Why

Originally published Wednesday, 21 August 2013.

What's your "why?"

We're Americans. We're creatures of ambition. It's a thing that's imbedded in our hearts as well as our skin cells. It's broadcasted from within us, but it also encapsulates us.

That's why doing something simply for the sake of joy is difficult.

At the end of the day, while we rest our heads on the pillow, we don't dream. We strategize. We plot. We never rest or bask in the process of milestones or creation.

We use our talents as weapons of entitlement, rather than what they really are.


I think that's why I hated writing.

My manuscript was my enemy. A thing I was a war with.

It could sense my beginning to pull away from it. It could sense my neglect. That I wasn't that into it.

It knew I was using it, but it wasn't getting me anywhere. It wasn't making me renowned, or famous, or pretty.

Which is essentially all that I want to get out of writing. I want it to make me feel pretty and clever.

That has become my "why."

And when I use writing for those purposes, rather than for joy I notice. I notice big time.

And guess what the Bible says about that?

You guessed it.

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit..."


This is what Christ did. This is how he lived.

He wasn't reaching for anything. He wasn't busy giving a video sermon. Or writing a book about his opinions on Christian culture. There wasn't a cardboard cutout of him at his local Barnes and Noble. He didn't do book signings. Or TODAY show interviews.

He wasn't worried about being radical. He wasn't worried about his marketing. His brand. His social media outreach. His platform.

He had 12 followers. Twelve. And that was enough to start a revolution of extraordinary love.

But, see? There are the things--blogging, branding, number of followers, blog stats, blog comments---I have been swarmed with.

Swarmed with.

This has been my ambition. And it's a heavy, thick intoxication. Like a man wearing too much cologne.

This has been my why. The purpose I've been following. The ambition. The motivation.

So, since my incomplete manuscript that I've been fighting with, and this blog I've been somewhat committed to has failed to make me a sparkling, famous celebrity writer, guess where this ambition has left me?

Fearful. Feeling like a failure. Depressed. Hopeless. Procrastination-ess.

That is the path where my selfish ambition has led me.

I went to a beautiful, fun wedding this weekend. Lots of old college friends. Lots of singing the James Madison fight song and talking about how grown up we are now that we're done with school.

A sweet friend of mine just put out a musical album. And we chatted briefly about how it feels to make art. To expose what we've done to the world. And how scary the whole darn mess can be.

She humbled me. Because it seemed, in our too-brief conversation, that she was just being obedient to a calling.

She wasn't using her art or her music to invent her. She was doing it because she loved it.

Because she found joy in it.

And because of that, her joy was her why. It was her reason for singing. It was her motivation for producing.

And it's lovely (y'all should check it out).

This is how Christ did it. He kept his eyes ahead. Hung out with prostitutes, convicts and tax collectors. For the love. For the joy of bringing people to the kingdom. He was obedient, yet confident. Humble, yet incredibly effective at conveying his message.

This is how it should be.

So, with the new ambition to seek joy and obedience in writing, I feel refreshed. I can feel myself falling into the groove of my purpose and calling. The little nook where a space is carved. For my words, my actions, my pursuits, my desires.

What if we could have all of that simply by letting our fingers relax from our try, try, try that we've been clutching onto? What if we let our shoulders step away from carrying the weight of achieving.

What if we just simply said yes to our talents, instead of burying them away because of fear?

What if we just obeyed Christ's command to step out of the boat and walk on water for a while? Trusting that when God created us as individuals, he built us to pursue the talents he locked away within us for His glory, His kingdom. His purpose.

Step out of the boat. Walk on your talents. Do it for the love of it.

Do it for the Kingdom's community.

Do it for joy.

Let the joy be your "why."

Talk to me sistahs! Are there talents in your life that you need to seek joy for? Have your artistic pursuits ever been hindered by your own ambition? Let's chat! Tell me about it, below!