Exuberant (Merriam Webster Online Dictionary) very lively, happy or energetic: filled with energy and enthusiasm.
Passion (Dictionary.com) Any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate.
Grief (Dictionary.com) A cause or occasion of keen distress or sorrow.
It can be a blessing and a curse to feel strongly. I’d rather dwell on the fun and happy…better yet, joyous, side of things, especially since what we feel deeply must be expressed some way or another. When I was growing up, Donna Fargo’s lyrics, “Shine on me sunshine, walk with me world, it’s a skippidity do-da-day, I’m the happiest girl in the whole U.S.A” resonated with me. My mom loved to tell stories and laugh and joke while we cleared the dinner table and wound down most evenings. Like anybody, I love the fun times but can embrace the occasional heartbreak, too, and sometimes even in the same general time frame.
To both soar high and plunge deep is the personality God gifted me with and its bane is restrained by the Christ who lives in me. Unfortunately, that restraint is an ongoing and unfinished process. But for most folks, honest humility necessitates reciprocal forbearance. I find comfort in the Biblical David, and many other Biblical characters who felt deeply. As obvious from the Psalms, David dealt with a restlessness and a range of emotions. Yet his confident expectation was in God that without a doubt all would be made right. (Ps. 63:1-11) He was hidden in Christ and an avid worshiper. And so am I.
Guy Brown, Ph.D., commenting on Kay Jamison’s book, “Exuberance: The Passion for Life”, says that ‘exuberance appears to feed off social interaction…and in adults exuberant behavior can be regarded as youthful playing or “kidding around”…exuberance is a behavior or mode of interaction, rather than an emotion …Exuberance keeps occasional company with grief, though grief may command the greater mention.’ It is here that passion, with its’ long suffering tendency, may over ride the sometimes more flitty exuberance. While talking at length on exuberance and all its pros and cons, Brown says, “Yet exuberance and joy are fragile matter. Bubbles burst; a wince of disapproval can cut dead a whistle or abort a cartwheel. The exuberant move about the horizon, exposed and vulnerable.’ There was a curious request made of God in an Anglican prayer, he says. ‘Shield your joyous ones.’ Everyone asks God to watch over the sick, the despairing, the suffering; as well we should. Yet, I’m thankful someone thought fit to pray for divine protection for the exuberant ones normally left to their own devices, and the misunderstandings and judgments that cloud their paths.
Brown and Jamison allow that the exuberant types can be “silly, juvenile, annoying, and disruptive”. But thankfully, Jamison added a saving grace, “Potentially, they may be more creative, because they generate random, playful ideas.” Though Brown was somewhat searing on the exuberant types and admitted to being more of an “Eeyore” than a “Tigger”, he did offer food for thought.
Meantime, I tend to ere more on the lighter side and find lengthy cut and dry, “left brain” centered engagements like a stuffy room, drastically in need of a breath of fresh air. In one of my favorite Oswald Chambers devotionals (and there are many), he says, “Beware of allowing yourself to think that the shallow aspects of life are not ordained by God; they are ordained by Him equally as much as the profound. We sometimes refuse to be shallow not out of deep devotion to God but because we wish to impress….And it causes us to be a walking rebuke to other people.” (Nov. 22 My Utmost for His Highest)
Jesus promised those of us who grieve are blessed, because we will also laugh. We are told that laughter is good medicine. I personally think that should include belly laughter, and definitely should include a trust in God despite circumstances. God tells us quite simply how to live: “Be fair and just to others, compassionate and loyal in our love, and don’t take ourselves too seriously, but always, always take God seriously.” (Micah 6:8 The Message). Along with being Holy, Just, Mighty, Fearsome and many other things, God is also Compassionate and has a sense of Humor. On the exuberance scale are you more the Tigger or the Eeyore? What characteristic do you have that vacillates between a blessing and a curse? How do you keep on the positive end of the spectrum? How forgiving are you with failures, both in yourself and others?