April 9, 2001

Newspaper convention provides lesson in joy

Josh Renaud

I got a wake-up call this morning at church. Not because I was sleeping—actually the service was especially vibrant—but because I don't have enough joy.

I had recognized the problem myself the night before as I was driving home with a fellow staff member from the Missouri College Media Association conference in Columbia.

I approached the conference with a mixture of anticipation and dread. These conferences are usually a lot of fun and they're educational. I was looking forward to getting some ideas to use in the paper during the last few weeks of this year. I was also looking forward to winning some awards, but I didn't want to go into it too high or too low.

Well, the weekend was full of surprises, something of an emotional rollercoaster. At the MCMA business meeting, where member schools vote for the next year's officers, a Current staff member decided to go for president. This was quite a surprise and I had concerns about it. I protested passionately, but he went ahead. He won easily.

It all happened in a matter of minutes. I was well aware of the magnitude of what had happened. By becoming president, this staff member inherited the responsibility for putting on a statewide conference that would be attended by hundreds of students. It will be a great thing for The Current and for UMSL, but it's gonna be tough.

After the seminars were finished, it was time for the dinner and then the awards ceremony. Three staffers were missing and no matter how hard we tried, we couldn't contact them anywhere. Eventually they showed up, but for a while, it was scary.

The final event, the awards ceremony, was a let-down for me. I wanted so badly for our staff members to win more awards, and I felt that we got the shaft in some categories.

Driving home that night, I didn't feel depressed, but I was in a melancholy funk.

This morning I seriously considered skipping church because I was tired. I'm glad that I didn't. As soon as the music started, I started to feel more alive. I don't think it was just me, either. The entire congregation seemed unusually "into" the morning's worship service. People were really moving and singing.

The message was the kicker, though. One of our pastors talked about joy. As he talked about it, I remembered a scripture I had thought of the previous day: "This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it!"

The message seemed tailor-made for me. With each scripture he read, every story he told, and every point he made, my spirit seemed to come alive. The weekend may have been disappointing at times, I realized. But so what? It was fun! I got a lot out of it, and so did my staffers. Why should I be so downcast?

Now here I am, finishing up another last-minute column. I feel so bad sometimes if I don't write these ahead of time. Not today. Even though there's still hours of work I have to catch-up on because of the conference, I feel alive. The joy of the Lord is my strength.

This article was reprinted with permission from The Current.

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