Enjoying Life

Do you enjoy life as a Christian?

I found a liberating story online titled “Enjoying Life Isn’t a Sin.” Michelle Van Loon talks about enjoying the goodness of God and life itself, and she suggests that enjoyment itself can become a meaningful way to imitate Christ.

That piece gave this struggling “I really want to enjoy life” guy hope.

Life presents many enjoyment stealers. Health concerns plague numerous people; others deal with major family conflicts; addictions trap people; expectations of others and oneself create problems; and political bickering between parties seem endless. For me, my religious training and view of God have affected my ability to enjoy life.

I grew up in a small, rural Christian Reformed congregation. While I certainly appreciated learning about the sovereignty of God and salvation through the cross, at times I felt like living the believer’s life was like carrying a huge piano on my back. God was up in heaven, and every time I sinned, he wanted to whack me with a baseball bat. Church seemed like a series of rules and regulations. Do this, don’t do this: that’s how you please God. Sermons were often long, graceless, and lacking application. As a teenager, I was expected to attend two worship services, Sunday school, and an evening Bible study each week. Sundays were a burden, not a joy. This affected not only my psyche but my witness to others as well. I attended a Christian college and remember one of my unbelieving friends remarking one day: “Delg is in a bad mood. It must be Sunday.” Ouch!

But how can we in a fallen world enjoy life and even honor God in our enjoyment?

I think it starts with a better understanding of how God sees us Christians. God has granted us an unbelievable future that starts in this life. God has given us forgiveness, mercy, purpose, and his abiding presence through the Holy Spirit. We don’t have to prove anything to others or ourselves because God believes we are worthy of his love through Christ. We are free to be ourselves with the gifts and talents he has provided. God has provided us boundless grace. We can live in that grace and freedom.

Another factor is thankfulness. When we are grateful, it’s easier to enjoy life. God has given us many spiritual and material blessings. Struggling with thankfulness? Return to two basics: “Thank you, Lord, for giving me another day to live on this earth, and thank you for the air to breathe.”

Another factor is self-love. As the saying goes, “Be kind to you.” Often we are hard on ourselves and create unrealistic expectations for ourselves. We compare our lives to others’. We forget God loves us just the way we are. We need to encourage ourselves and speak positive things.

Enjoying life also involves shifting our eyes away from ourselves and onto others. Be available, whether it’s with time or resources. Sometimes just a friendly hello or a smile will give someone hope.

It also helps to keep physically and mentally active. That could mean physical work or play, reading a book, taking up a new hobby, or putting together a puzzle.

Finally, we must realize some days life is just not enjoyable. As a football coach struggling with major health issues while caring for a special needs child said, “You’re not going to eat ice cream sundaes every day.”

But in the end, God has not called us to a miserable life. And we don’t have to wait until heaven to enjoy it. The time is now.

Previous ArticleNext Article