When I was younger (OK maybe only a couple months ago), I would lie awake in my bed at night and wonder if I could be happy. I would go over all of the things happening in my life and look for the one thing or maybe two things that were getting in the way of my happiness. I would pretty much always find something; a friend acting strangely, an approaching science test, an upcoming meeting or presentation, an illness.. and then I would look forward to that thing being done with or resolved because then I could be really and truly happy.
Almost two years ago, I was recovering from a breakup and starting to feel like myself again. I can remember distinctly thinking.. “Give me a couple more weeks and then I can be totally happy”. Everything was going really well in my life and the bruises on my heart were starting to heal up nicely. I figured that I was on the brink of being able to be happy again. But then, I found out that my father was diagnosed with a terminal illness and so the idea of being able to be really happy quickly faded away. I remember thinking: This is it. I will never be truly happy again. How dramatic!
Anyway, miraculously, my father is recovering brilliantly, the stresses in my life seem to be at a bit of a low, life is pretty good except for… well there is always an except for. And that’s what I’ve learned. As long as I’m living on this planet, there will something less-than-ideal going on. Because we are humans. Because we have bodies. Because we are living on this planet with other complicated humans. Because we need to grow. Because we need to stay in constant communication with God. The list goes on…
I’ve also been really tuned into the fact that I don’t need everything to be going perfectly well to be happy. Because it’s not the little fleeting emotion of happy that I’m after, it’s the much more powerful JOY that is the goal, the command. It seems like over and over I’m confronted with the idea that we are called to rejoice in all of our circumstances, to be joyful, to seek joy. Realizing that I don’t need everything to be going well to be able to find complete joy in life, in God, has been a bit of a wake up for me.
And so now when I go to bed, instead of looking for the one thing that is blocking my happiness, I’ll focus on the things that bring me joy.. the One who brings me joy. It works out much better this way.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (ESV)