Is It Ok to Enjoy Life?

Erik Cooper —  July 14, 2011 — 4 Comments

Last week we had dinner with some dear friends. Mentors of sorts. They invited us over for home-made southwestern cuisine and an evening of beautiful conversation. Even my finicky palette couldn’t help but experiment with the pineapple salsa and pecan soup. It was good. I had seconds (and OK, maybe a few thirds).

But there was something in the air I was craving besides the food. A type of joy and reckless abandon I long for. Hard to describe, but it seemed like these people, that I deeply respect on a professional and spiritual level, have learned how to fully embrace and enjoy life.

Lots of rational reasons for this reality. Their kids are grown and gone, he’s at the end of a very successful medical career, the stress of financial stability and identity have long been resolved. Perhaps that’s some of what I sensed, but I think the truth was much deeper.

Have “churchies” like me subliminally embraced a worldview that enjoying life is wrong?

Hear me out. I definitely enjoy my life. I’m grateful for every aspect, both the beautiful and the tragic. But sometimes it seems the Evanglical’s joy is muted by this overwhelming sense of “ought to.” An invisible cloak of guilt that constantly drives us towards who we think we’re supposed to be, rather than who God actually created us to be.

I’m not talking about embracing our sin nature. That’s one appetite we need to starve.

But is it possible that in our godly desire to avoid sinful abuse, we can unwittingly dull our ability to embrace God’s original design? In our fear of messing things up, might we also be muting our capacity to enjoy the abundant life Jesus came to give?

It’s a delicate balance. Our flesh is evil and deceptive in so many ways.

I don’t believe the purpose of life is our enjoyment, but is it possible to enjoy a purposeful life?

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

4 responses to Is It Ok to Enjoy Life?

  1. Seriously, how do you and Nathan both always seem to read the Smith family mail? It’s a lil uncanny. Wish we could sit down and wrestle with these questions with you City Com’ers…hopefully one of these days!

  2. Hi!

    Joy and strength are so connected that I think we ARE meant to enjoy life way more than I currently am….definitely. With God’s prompting, I’m really moving along in this area the past couple of months and I pray that you do too! Appreciate the post! Felt like I was right there. You are such a good communicator!

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