A thought crossed my mind the other day that I thought was absurd. The thought occurred as I was contemplating a small rift in my happily-ever-after. My husband and I were arguing about something miniscule. And I let the whine, “Why don’t you want me to be happy?!?” fall out of my mouth. Now, you should know that I was being a slight drama queen, as we were arguing over what genre of movie we would watch that night.
We ended up watching no movie.
But this blog was born. So, score.
Now, back to my absurd thought. It was this: “Happiness is a lie.”
If all I want, need, or pursue in life is happiness, I will turn into a shallow, consumption addict. If I want to only find “happiness” in my marriage, I will find disappointment. If I want to only find “happiness” in my job, I might as well quit right now. If I want to only find “happiness” in my church, I should start attending services at McDonalds. If I want to only find “happiness” in my children, I should plan to spend approximately 10 minutes with them every day.
I’ve come to believe that nothing on this earth was created to make us happy. Nothing.
Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing.
However, happiness happens. But that’s just because our God is good. Happiness is a by-product of the true purpose of creation. The earth and all it entails, all its natural institutions, and all its beauty were created not to make us happy, but to make us holy.
Do you know how many counseling sessions I’ve sat through when a husband and wife come and tell me, “But, we’re not happy anymore.”?
Do you know how often I hear people say of their church’s worship and community, “I’m not happy there anymore.”?
Do you know how much folks (and I include myself) say of their life, “I’m just going to do what makes me happy.”?
Too many. Too much.
If we are just going to be happy, we are just going to have to come to terms with having absolutely no useful impact on this world. Holiness, on the other hand is the goal of the righteous, the joyful, the compassionate, the content, the humble…of Jesus the Christ.
If, for example, we apply this holiness approach to just one aspect of our lives, say corporate worship, it has huge implications…
…on the music: Happiness concerns itself only with whether the worship music suits us. Holiness concerns itself only with whether the worship of our mouths and instruments suits God.
…on the preaching: Happiness would nod off if it thought the sermon was boring. Holiness would be in fervent prayer for the broken person for whom God prepared this message. Holiness would then open our eyes and show us that we are the broken.
…on the hospitality: Happiness demands a comfortable chair, a cup of coffee, and no pressure to change who I am. Holiness demands that we seek out the lost, find them a comfortable chair, pour them a warm drink and offer them the Gospel.
…on giving: Happiness demands I give what I want. Holiness demands sacrifice.
If, by sacrificing our superficial happiness, we can be made holy, we might find that our marriage’s strength grows beyond our wildest dreams. We might find that our job becomes more than a paycheck, but a mission field. We might find that our kids become young kings and queens of the Kingdom. We might find that our worship and our church family become as essential as food and water. And we might find, when it’s all said and done, that all of these things will make us truly…happy! Because God is just that good! And because when our goal is higher than happiness, we pass happiness along the way and it just joins our journey, a companion on the trek, rather than the elusive idol we often make it.