Friday, August 26, 2011

To rejoice or to mourn? THAT is the question.

Of all the topics I've talked about on this blog recently, there's been one glaring omission: the Bible.  The Good Book deserves to be talked about, so, I'm posting about it now and hope to make more posts about God's Word in the future.  I hope all you readers of my blog enjoy this post; it's been days in the making.
The Bible is full of teachings that are hard to live out:
  • "Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:28, NIV)
  • "Anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell." (Matthew 5:22, NIV)
  • "Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord." (Romans 12:19, NIV) 
I don't know about you, but I struggle with following those commandments quite often.  However, there's one other commandment that is almost as hard to keep from breaking: "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." (Romans 12:15, NIV)  It's one that I keep repeating in my head to make sure that, the next time an occasion which requires rejoicing or mourning comes up, I'll respond appropriately.
Most of you who know me know that I don't always have the same response to things as most people do.  Two such examples are Napoleon Dynamite and The Last Airbender.  My opinions of both of those flicks differed greatly from popular opinion.  My feelings on films are small potatoes compared to my response to big announcements and/or events, though.
Sometimes, I have found it easy to mourn with others over the loss of a loved one, even when I never knew or even met the deceased individual.  I can remember being quite upset after looking at pictorial tributes to people who died quite young.  However, that hasn't always been the case.
I think you friends of mine know how much I dislike dogs, right? Well, a few years ago, my old neighbors had gotten a brand new canine that was even more of an annoyance to me than others of his species.  Every time I went in my backyard, he barked like crazy at me, even when I was sitting on my parents' swing, facing the other way with headphones on my ears and my nose in an Anne McCaffrey novel.  Not long after they got him, he ran out into the street and was killed.  Part of me wanted to be sad, but a bigger part of me was thinking, YAY! Now I can go in my backyard and not be sonically assaulted by that dumb animal's barking! I shouldn't have been thinking the latter, though, because that wasn't a Christ-like attitude.
As bad as that may sound, I've had more cases where I broke the first part of Romans 12:15: "Rejoice with those who rejoice."  I'm sure you all know that my lack of a relationship has been one of my favorite topics of online discussion.  Well, being on Facebook too much has led to me being among the first to find out about friends' engagements, and, I'll admit, I haven't always acted appropriately.  I've done everything from unfriending the newly engaged friend to pitching a hissy fit (no joke) to making violent threats (again, no joke), all of which I shouldn't have done.  It seemed like I was unable to look past my own immediate needs and wants, which made me unable to rejoice with my friends like everyone else.
I've said enough about what I've done.  Now, let's talk about you; that is, my friends.  I think pretty much all of you know that I rejoice over things that don't even affect anyone else.  A perfect example was the crowning of Victoria Justice as my new top celebrity crush earlier this year; despite me being quite elated about it, most (though not all) of my friends seemed totally indifferent about it, as if I was celebrating a completely unheard of holiday.  Other big events, whether happy or sad, that have happened to me over the past year or so, such as the Love and Other Drugs trailer incident, "Electricity" and her rather ugly rejection of me, Rachel Zevita's unfair early elimination from American Idol, or finding cool, unique items at local yard sales, have elicited similar responses.
You may say, "But those incidents you mentioned mostly deal with entertainment, which isn't all that important." Well, maybe not to you, but books, movies, television and music are my passions, which is why I want to work at a library one day, and hopefully will soon.  To illustrate my point, I'll use a story about one of my family members: My sister, for those of you who don't know her, has always been a big-time animal lover.  At one point, she and my brother-in-law owned three cats and two (big) dogs.  It's no surprise that she works at a vet clinic, right? Well, her passion for animals goes beyond that.  Over the years, she was able to find quite a bit of memorabilia that had cat(s) and/or dog(s) that were the same breed(s) as hers; she had everything from a framed photo to notepads to even a panhandler.
You bet, she loved her pets! Now, if some tragedy had happened to one of them, it would be easy for a fellow animal lover to understand the pain she was going through, right? However, how would someone who can't even stand the sight of an innocent, sweet house cat or a cuddly little basset hound--and, yes, I have known people like that--feel?  Would they even begin to understand what that was like? Probably not.
What's my point in saying that? Simply this: Although many people like entertainment, I've been hard-pressed to find very many people that take it as seriously as I do.  If you go in my bedroom, the walls are covered with various movie, TV and music-related images, and my shelves are overflowing with books.  That's proof of my dedication to it, right? So, naturally, when a celebrity I like does something seriously wrong, I mourn, and, when one of my favorite actors, actresses or singers does something great, I rejoice.
Going back to the verse in Romans: "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." It really couldn't be any simpler.  Nowhere in the Bible does it say that you don't have to rejoice (or mourn) with someone if you think what they're all excited (or dismayed) about is stupid.  When I'm happy (or sad) about something, I don't want to hear, "You need to get over it!" or "Just move on with your life!", even if the reason for my feelings is entertainment-related.  That kind of response is very immature, like that of a middle schooler.  If you don't like having to rejoice (or mourn) with me over something related to an actress, movie, or book, don't blame me, because I'm not the One who commanded you to do it.  The New Living Translation says it even plainer: "Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep."  Yes, it does apply to me, but it applies to you as well.  I'm going to try to be better about following that commandment; will you join me?

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