I've been trying to find an analog to my current period of life but the only one I can think of comes from the world of Hajime No Ippo, where Ippo sealed off his Dempsey Roll, to work on the basics.
The Christianity I've been taught requires several important premises to be understood before it can be useful. The Gospels record an account of Jesus saying that "He who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." It's given me an incredible amount of trouble over the years because of the obvious question: if I hate my life, why would I want even more of it? Yes, there's the answer that the hatred of our current life means something quite different from the implied meaning in my question, but that remains in the realm of theory, which is to say, trash until it can be applied.
When I think of people who hate their lives, quite a large number of people come to mind. They play video games. They live moment to moment like animals scratching their itch for entertainment and diversion. Their life seems to be a rejection of life, a desire to forget the fact of their existence. I see bored faces with eyes glazed over. I see them holding energy drinks, needing cocktails of chemicals "just to wake up" as if waking up was something that should be difficult. I see them downing oceans of alcohol to shut down their minds. This style of living is what I see "hating your own life" as. If you promised me an eternity of that and called it Heaven, I'd probably say "See you in hell." Losing a life I loved is far more desirable than living a life I hated.
I've devoted the last 2 years of my life to finding out what I life I loved look like. I felt an intense dissatisfaction, dissapointment with the previous life I lived because I based that life on premises I didn't trust. But I never stopped believing in God. This more than anything else gives me confidence in my state among the elect. Though my mind seemed to fail me, though my experience had led me into a world of misery, though I despised most of the advice given me because most people just didn't "get it", I never stopped wanting to have the joy of divine fellowship. I remembered a taste of it from earlier days but I don't think at any point, I ever made a sustained effort to recreate the past. And I'm glad I didn't. The past is yesterday. I'm looking for tomorrow. The way out of the forest takes me through the forest.
So quite honestly, I'm going to grow the only way I know how: unorthodox. It's no secret that I detest the cookie-cutter practices of Christianity. So I'm not going to bother with that anymore. Life has always been terrible when I follow templates. It's always been fairly enjoyable, even in the painful times, when I've been given liberty to grow naturally. Safety? Forget safety. Let's aim for the greatest possible outcome. Let's dare greatly.
I grew up believing the world was scary and hostile, that video games and doing nothing with other people was as fun as life got -- a life I now see as hollow and false. My search begins with joy. I refuse to take an answer that someone else has found and call it my own. I never copied a paper in college. I'm not going to begin in "real life." Is God the ultimate joy in life? Maybe. It's possible. It's not my experience. Until it becomes my experience, I won't be able to live like it is and I refuse to pretend like it is. How does that help anyone?
No, living life at the limits gives me joy. I've feel like I've only tapped into the barest sliver of my mind's potential, into my life's potential and I'm enthralled. I want to know it so much more. Going hard in a race, during training, gives me a great amount of joy. Reading the bible, sitting for sermons, not so much. I figure it's about time to be honest with life.
So I'm getting back to basics. Without a working definition of joy, without a way to interpret the verse I quoted earlier correctly, and not just to interpret it in a way that works rationally, but to have a living, working explanation, how could I possibly live so as to look forward to eternity?
The only way out is through.