Joy for the Melancholic Christian

Going to that big box-store we all know about and some of us love is hard for me.

You know the one I’m talking about, right? The one with aisles and aisles of everything you could ever need in your life all in one place? The one in nearly every town all across the United States? Yeah, that one.

Well, personally I hate going there.

No, it’s not because of the narrow aisles, everyone bumping into everyone else, or only four open checkout lines out of fifteen, even though all of this is quite annoying.

It’s because this store makes me sad. It burdens me. When I drive into the parking lot I immediately see all that’s wrong with our country, our world, and my heart hurts.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons: Patrick Hoesley

Welcome to the life of the melancholy.

For hours I will sit and take those tests that explain me to myself. Personality tests, spiritual gifts tests, temperament tests. They give me proof for what I already know. It’s like they give me permission to be me.

Melancholic. That’s what they say I am.

This website describes melancholy like this:

“The melancholy tends to be an introvert in socialization, who looks at their home as a ‘sanctuary’ away from the world, who is task oriented, very creative, a perfectionist, and plagued with low self-esteem. Melancholy’s need ‘alone quiet time every day to think, dream, and regenerate.’ They also give the world its beauty, its great art and music, and literature. They tend to think deep and feel things intensely.”

Frankly, I cannot describe myself any more perfectly. That is me.

Since I can remember, my vision has been shaped by a broken mirror, not rose-colored glasses. I don’t see sunshine and rainbows, happiness and smiles. The water in my glass is not half full. I don’t think everything is going to work out in this life.

For me, death is easy to understand and heaven is more real than earth. So I don’t expect much from this place. I expect it to be what it is – fallen.

But deep down I know there is more. I know there is joy.

Truth tells me that God created me “fearfully and wonderfully”, and He knew what He was doing “full well” (Psalm 139:14).

So there has to some good that comes from having a melancholic mind, right?

After all, we are the realists who make sure that life is not just a party. We know the bottom line and communicate it. We keep the purpose of life legit.

The struggle for the melancholic Christian is seeing joy while looking through broken glass

In Luke 10 Jesus sent His disciples out ahead of Him to spread His message. When they returned they were joyful because “even the demons obeyed them when they used Jesus’s name” (Luke 10:17).

As a melancholy I have a tendency to want to take out my swords and defeat the enemy.

When I feel like I’ve succeeded, then I, too, feel joyful.

Until I look through the broken glass again and see more armies to defeat. Then my melancholic mind sits back in its place.

And my joy is lost again.

Jesus responded to His disciples, “But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven” (Luke 10:20).

Like I find myself, the disciples were joyful in their own accomplishment. But Jesus redirects them to the place where authentic joy is produced – hidden with the Holy Spirit. 

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives” (Galatians 5:22-25 NLT).

When I walk into that big box-store, look around and see all that burdens me, I need to remember that my joy does not come from my ability to change this world.

My joy comes from my relationship with Jesus. 

Have you taken a temperament quiz? Do you struggle with parts of your temperament?

 

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