Sleep in Sunday: On Choosing Joy

You know what’s been missing? JOY.

There are any number of reasons for this lack of JOY. One of those reasons, though, is the idea that we must do things “because.” There’s no phrase or clause after the “because.” Just doing things “because” can result in a loss of JOY.

I grew up going to church. Every Sunday. I believe we were at one time Lutheran – maybe a short stint as Presbyterian – and a fair number of years in the Baptist church. My mom played organ and piano. Dad was a deacon. My sisters and I attended Sunday school and then church, and, when we were very little children’s church. You know: that’s the part of the  service where the little ones get called up to the floor near the pulpit, get a short object lesson of some kind from the pastor, and then get shuttled off downstairs for stale animal cookies, watered down koolaid, and cotton ball craft while the adults listen to Bible readings and a sermon.

(Full disclosure: I don’t know if that’s how church still goes in any of the places I have ever attended.)

I’m not singing hymns this morning; I did not have to get dressed up; I have not brought a casserole to share after the service; I do not intend to return later for a business meeting followed by Sunday evening services.

Because the fact of the matter is: I don’t go to church any more.

And I’m going to tell you: Sunday mornings are JOYFUL.

I am making brunch. Or getting coffee. Or going on a walk. Sleeping late. Planning the week. Doing laundry. Reading a book. Texting friends. Writing poems. Playing with the dogs. Watching a movie. Composing letters. Fixing the sink.

Sunday mornings are about enjoying life for me.

There are people who find that JOY in church, but, you see, church started out for me as a chore. That’s what we had to do Sunday mornings when I was growing up. It was a job – we all had our tasks at church. Not the least of which was to sit still. When I was in college, less church and more hangovers, but I digress. Then, as a young mother, I made my family attend church in much the same fashion I had as a young girl. Perhaps even more so  because – ta da! – we became missionaries for a while. Talk about a job! Later in life, I attended church because it was required; part of the social contract of living in the South is church. In fact, I will tell you that when I lived in Georgia, and I would introduce myself to someone, I was usually asked my husband’s name and then what church we went to.

Do you notice what’s missing here?


There was no joy in church for me. Church was a task to be performed, a show to play a role in, a Bible verse to memorize, an outfit to wear, a song to sing, comparisons to endure, a series of conversations to tolerate.

Now, you may think that I simply chose churches poorly. As I intimated at the beginning of this: I have been Baptist, Lutheran, Non-denominational, Presbyterian, Methodist, Open-Bible (the speaking in tongues kind), and Episcopalian. In all of these iterations, I found one common denominator: Burden.

I held on to church for so long because it was the “thing to do.” Because the neighbors did it. Because I had been brought up in the church.

Not because I wanted to.

The past few years I have let church go, and I have found more JOY on a singular Sunday morning than I had over decades of pew-sitting.

I do not know how you choose to spend your Sunday mornings. Perhaps you attend church. Vacuum your carpets. Visit the elderly. Bake pies. Watch crime shows. Wash your cats. Detail your car. Brew beer.

What I want to say is: whatever you do with your Sunday mornings: do it with JOY.

Or whenever – it doesn’t have to be about Sunday mornings. It is about JOY.

As we look toward the upcoming holidays and our schedules and our obligations, maybe you have something that is a task you’ve wanted to get rid of for a while. Perhaps you want to resign from the committee or put the brakes on a project. Do it. No explanations needs. No self-excoriation.

Just choose JOY. 






4 thoughts on “Sleep in Sunday: On Choosing Joy

  1. I started talking to a guy at a bar once when he asked me my last name. I said Hogan. Oh, he said, you must have been raised Catholic. And I said, no, I got both Baptist and Catholic. “Oh!” he exclaimed. I said oh no, my mom was a Baptist who drank, smoked, and danced, and my father was a Catholic who divorced his first wife. “I know what you mean he said, my dad was a state auditor and my mother embezzled a quarter million dollars.” I’ve often wondered which he thought was Baptist and which was Catholic for his parents.


  2. My parents took us to church when we were young, but that soon faded away for some reason. My world is black and white. There is no grey area. You have a problem, you come up with a solution and you move on. I have always been curious (wait for the lightening to strike) why religion has always been based on faith and not fact. Billions of people are effected by religion and most without questions. I have a few questions…

    Like, if there is just one god why does he appear to be so many different colors? Or even different genders. The clothing is always different as is facial hair and length of mane on the head. There are even a few who believe there are many gods depending on the need at the time. And what’s with the zero tolerance thing on most religions? And even the message.
    Why is is that Christianity is all about sin and penalty where other religions speak of tolerance, the joys of life and life’s fulfillment. Every other preacher or evangelist tells me what I am sinning about this week or how much they need for there new mansion, err…prayer palace or the new business jet to spread the word to the distance sinners. But, I always thought there seemed to be plenty of ambassadors spreading the word worldwide as it was without the high cost of jet fuel paid for by the people that can least afford it. And what’s with every one of them having a different message. Most seem to say they speak directly to the lord, but they all differ in the message.

    I am an atheist. Not an easy decision. I do understand why people flock to religion. People always seem to feel secure and more at peace when they feel they are being ‘looked after.’ Even before birth we are in the womb and safe. Then your parents, police, government… always some ‘higher power’ to provide for us. If you want me to consider this then show me some proof. And not a whole ark with registration number and occupancy sticker, but something. And why is it every major war in history has been because of religion? In all of history. Billions of people killed because of hear say.

    But, I do respect those in all religions or faiths. Everyone has the right to enjoy what ever their heart believes. And no one has the right to disrespect others for what they believe. Ignorance seems to be a thriving factor in friction between people. It causes people to disagree even to the point of violence.

    You do what ever you want on Sunday mornings. Sleep in, go jogging, drink some coffee with the morning paper or go to your choice of worship. But, just enjoy.


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