One of my least favorite parental duties is swimming lessons. They are tedious and trying and the teachers are far too patient. When I was a kid we took swim lessons everyday for two weeks. They dumped us in the pool. We gasped for air. And then we swam.

Nowadays, you take your child to a Swim School. They let the kids “acclimate to the water” as though they are encountering an alien substance. We are on lesson three and still have not put our head in the water. And by “we” I mean my daughter. But it kind of feels like me too.

She is especially against swimming lessons. She screams, clings to me, I promise her 8755 Barbie dolls and a singing unicorn. I threaten her with, “You won’t be able to swim with us! You’ll have to watch!” To which she replies, “DAS OKAY. I WIKE WATCHING.”

It’s going swimmingly.

This past week we did our negotiation dance. I was bent over whispering the entire contents of the toy store in her ear. She was leaned into me, pulling my shirt down to her for comfort. I was in full mom mode, no thought to what I looked like, just determined to get her in the water. She finally relented. I could have done a victory dance.

Except that my joy got immediately stolen.

You see, there is a giant panel of glass behind the pool. Think wall to wall. The parents sit on the other side of it to observe (translation: mouth GET IN THE POOL to) their kids. As I victoriously walked to sit among my peers a mother pulled me aside and said, “I wanted to knock on the glass and tell you something! When you were bent over we could all see your underwear!”

(Lord Jesus.)

“And then!” she cheerfully continued, “When you bent over to put everything back in her swim bag, I’m sure all of the people in the pool saw your underwear too! Poor them!”

I felt deflated and humiliated all at once. I had almost felt relief. I had almost felt joy. I had almost felt like I had done right by my child. But there I was with my behind on display for the world. And I was being told this “helpful news” by and in front of the very people I would be sitting with.

I could say that this is a thing that mothers do to one another. Or maybe, more controversially, this is a thing that women do to one another. But that would be to minimize a very common, incredibly human sin. We love to steal joy. We love to correct. Everyone does this.

This week the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Michael Curry, has been all over the place. He was on The View, The Today Show, and (even) TMZ. He’s talking about Jesus. And he’s preaching love. It is truly remarkable. Watching a leader of a mainline Christian denomination on television being joyful in the Lord makes me wonder if this is how my great grandmother felt the first time she saw a car.

I find myself astonished and relieved. There is Good News! There is joy!

And then, along come the thieves.

We need to correct the joy. As soon as the news coverage wave began to crest, the churchy correction squad WENT TO WORK. When most news sources said that Bishop Curry was from Chicago, people flipped out. Apparently, he was just born in a suburb of Chicago. When the media could not get his title right, folks would post a clip and say, “Well, he’s more than just a minister.” When commentators said his sermon went on for too long we (who should be busy making our own sermons better) got all up in arms about why the general public is ill informed on average sermon lengths.

Then there’s a whole host of church folks dedicated to tearing down Bishop Curry’s sermon theologically. I’m Team Can’t Even with that whole conversation.

Do y’all need a hug?

I wish I knew why joy and relief are so often met with suspicion and correction. We tell ourselves if the media is going to talk about the church they need to do more research. We tell ourselves that we are being helpful. We tell ourselves that the mom at the pool should know that everyone has seen her old Target underwear. We tell ourselves that we are detail-oriented.

Of course, we all know who lives in the details.

At moments such as these, I wonder if we can even handle the joy of Jesus. I wonder if we all aren’t base level Pharisees (still) walking around looking for someone to correct. Even a loving and pastoral bishop of the church. Even our fellow Christians. Even Jesus Himself.

Maybe we can’t handle it on this side of heaven. We have to point out the missteps to make the happiness and hope just crooked enough to fit in our broken hearts. Perhaps godly happiness is just a fish out of water on this earthly plane. Lord, I hope not.

I realize you may not see a lot of parallels between what Bishop Curry preached and me living the #momlyfe at swim lessons. But I sure felt them. I was just trying to get my daughter in the water of the pool. He was just trying to call God’s children towards the Living Water of Jesus Christ. And joy stealers (however well meaning they may be) are just more noisy correction in a world hell bent on following the rules.

I am grateful for the momentary joy that Michael Curry has given, not just the church, but this suffering, sinsick world. I am thankful that he offered it in the name of Jesus. I am also grateful that my final joy does not rest on my ability to keep my rear end covered.

Humiliation, correction, and helpfulness are short lived, but the joy of a God who loves us despite our shortfalls never fails.