Saturday, March 15, 2008

Treat Your Smiling Addiction

This video to reminds me of a conversation we had in our Discussion Group this week. The question of whether Christianity has put itself on a realistic pedestal where people don't feel as if they are allowed to be real. I mentioned that we hear this in invocational prayers at the beginning of worship services (of which I've said myself before thinking about it): "God, help us to leave whatever is on our hearts...whatever is weighing us down outside so we can focus only on you."

I don't think that this is realistic. People can't just LEAVE their problems, thoughts, emotions on the front steps. You can't just put those things down. Thus, we use our coping mechanism of putting on the fake smile and simply ignoring the problems as we enter the place where we pray to be confronted by God.

One of the phrases I picked up from another cynic in Div. school about church ministry is how ministers are expected to "put on their smiley faces and be go be seen" on Sunday mornings. That's because it is what is expected of you. Pastors aren't supposed to be down, but always have a smile on their face.

I've actually had a Sunday morning where I wasn't my usually cheery self, and when I got the courtesy, "how are you today, " I simply said, "well, I've been better... not my best week." I actually had that person look at me like I was an alien. They simply said, "Well, it'll get better." and walk off with a smile on their face to greet others. No question on why, or what happened... I caught them off guard with an authentic answer.

Now I'm not saying that ministers should be a point of joy in people's lives. I'm NOT saying that ministers shouldn't be the embodiment of HOPE in their demeanor. I'm just saying that perhaps sometimes, we have to let ourselves off the hook of expectations and also be the embodiment of questions, uncertainty... of the journey!

I am far from having a "Smiling Addiction" right now. Life has just become too complicated. Interestingly enough, the ONLY place where I've felt any pressure to ignore the tough times I am going through is when at a church. And not just one church, it seems all churches have that expectation. Even if you visit a church, you are more likely to be approached and welcomed if you "wear your smiley face" than if you look like you are a person in need of some lifting up. Where did we as Christians go wrong in this?

Is "happiness the end of common sense"? As the song says? Sometimes it would seem least the Masquerade of Happiness!

so it goes...