Don’t apologize for what brings you joy

Published 7:13 pm Friday, April 21, 2023

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Finding joy in a world as scary as ours isn’t always easy. I’m talking about more than fleeting happiness, although we should always take happiness where and when we find it. The kind of joy I’m talking about is a flame within, a feeling of exuberant bliss. What makes you feel this way? What gets you excited or sets you alight with its flame?

I’ve recently returned to something that once gave me great joy: professional wrestling. You read that right. Wrestling. When I was younger, I was obsessed with wrestling. The costumes, characters, and music were endlessly entertaining. The high-flying moves and the bare-knuckled fists told stories about honor, revenge, and quests for championship gold. In fact, professional wrestling is partly responsible for my becoming a priest. You read that right, too. But that’s a story for another time.

Wrestling and I fell out of love as I entered college for reasons I don’t remember. But five months ago, I found myself watching a match after a surprise surgery put me in bed for a while. By the show’s end, despite my pain, I was warmed by a new flame. I felt my inner child celebrate as I found joy in something I used to love so much.

Admittedly, I felt a bit silly. To borrow a phrase from St. Paul, aren’t we supposed to leave behind childish things? That feeling lasted for precisely 3.2 seconds. In a rare moment of clarity, I decided then and there that I wouldn’t apologize for what brought me joy. I wasn’t going to care what others thought about my re-ignited love for what is essentially live theater with a bit of prize fighting added in. This world tries to take our joy every day. I decided I wasn’t going to let it take mine anymore.

So many of us struggle with being our authentic selves around people whose judgment we fear. Maybe a voice from a cruel parent still echoes in your head, or perhaps you think nobody would accept you for who you are. This isn’t really about wrestling after all. It’s about cherishing what brings us joy, and being our authentic selves, in a world that is constantly trying to steal our happiness. Don’t let it steal yours. Be who you are. Love what you enjoy. Cherish the Light wherever you find it.

Chris Adams is the Rector at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Washington.