Reflect (Thankful, Peaceful, Joyful)

by Ryan Krzykowski

In a Coaching Life Group meeting last week, one of the discussion questions asked which of these is most difficult for you to experience: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness or self-control?

My answer came immediately, and it was ‘joy’.  It’s not that I’m completely unfamiliar with joy, it’s more that my current default is ‘strive’, which it appears can be something of a joy-robber.  I find little moments of happiness in most days, but the greater goal of joy has been elusive.

In this particular Coaches group, we are reading and discussing On Point by former NBA Coach Del Harris.  (I referenced this same book two posts ago…it’s that good).  In chapter six of On Point Coach Del reminds us that the concept of joy is referenced over 200 times in the Bible.  Joy is one expression of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5.  Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians to “be joyful always”.  The angel who announced the birth of Christ brought “good new of great joy, which will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10).

Clearly joy is more than a good idea or happier way to live — it’s how we are instructed to live by our God.  OK, great.  So if I am not experiencing joy all that readily, what adjustments need to be made?

I thought about this story from Coach Del’s book; these are his words, not mine:

“I determined to go into the game with the idea that I was going to coach it the best way I could, with the right spirit.  I would see what happened.  I was going to be joyful for the opportunity I had been given, good calls or bad calls, made shots or missed shots.  I reflected on the many opportunities give me, a small-town boy, in my professional career.  To think I got to experience one of life’s unique thrills: parading at the opening night of the Olympics in Athens where it had all started so long ago.  What a thrill!  And many more thankful thoughts flooded my mind, about my family, my health, and numerous other blessings.  When I did this, a peace came over me that I had never felt before a big game.  It was wonderful.  Sounds crazy maybe, but it’s true.”

In his example Del is about to coach the Chinese national basketball team in a big Olympic game in 2004, and there are a couple words that jump out at me from his example.

Reflect:  Del says he reflected on the opportunity he had been given.  I have never coached in the Olympics and likely never will, but this goes beyond a simple, cursory counting of one’s blessings (which isn’t a bad idea either).  This reflection Del writes of seems to go far deeper.  It requires significant introspection which takes time, and results in…

Thankfulness: Del writes that his reflective practice resulted in gratitude and thankfulness beyond the topics he was thinking about.  It went beyond an ‘attitude’ and became an entire state of being.  And that thankfulness that became his state of being turned into…

Peace: Del describes that his process led to peace.  “A peace came over me that I had never felt before a big game”.  This coming from a man who had coached in multiple NBA Finals, no shortage of big games.  But his reflection led to a thankful state of being that flooded his heart with peace.

As I have pondered my trouble with joy, it’s become clear that I have not engaged in a process like Del’s very much at all recently.  I have failed to slow down and reflect.  As much as I hate to admit it, I have felt entitled and have become far too easily irritated by the perceived lack of consideration of others.  I have allowed circumstances to become a distraction.  They distract me from much of the good I get to enjoy around me.  They distract me from slowing down and reflecting on infinite blessings I typically fail to appreciate.  They distract me from displaying the type of life that draws people in — a life characterized by joy.