happiness

I keep hearing the phrase “as long as (s)he is happy” or some variation of it. It almost always hits a nerve. I’ve been trying to figure out why. Happiness is a good thing, right? I read a blog post once along the lines of “I don’t want my children to be happy.” I can’t remember who wrote it and I’m not trying to copy it here. I do remember it confirming some things in my heart concerning this American can dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Bear with me while I process some things here in the blogosphere. When my husband and I made the decision for him to go to seminary, I was not happy. I was sad. I grieved over leaving my comfort zone, my friends, my family and my familiar surroundings in order to pick up and move to central Florida, in the middle of the summer, while I was in my third trimester of pregnancy with my third child. We chose to raise support to supplement our income so that my husband could focus on school work. He was to be in a very intense Masters program for two years. One day my mom asked me if we still planned to go even if we didn’t get the support we needed. When I said yes, she got very upset and hung up the phone. She called back to tell me that she just wanted me to be “happy” and then hung up again.

Would I have been happier to stay in my comforts… yes? But was staying the best thing for me? for my husband? for our family? It’s taken me four years to be able to say this, but no… it wouldn’t have been the best thing. God, in his infinite wisdom, put me through the ringer. I was not comfortable. I was not content. I was not happy.

But from that experience, I gained compassion on those who have to make hard financial choices and who live below the poverty line. I learned to be creative with gift giving. I learned to be frugal in our homeschooling. I learned to ask for help. I learned that giving is not always financial. I learned to respect and defend my husband. I learned to stand my ground and follow the Lord even when it doesn’t make sense. I cried a lot and questioned God. I got mad and Him. I yelled at Him… and He still loves me. He didn’t abandon me. Was I happy…. not always, but I guess my happiness wasn’t the point of all that.

So.. .what is the point? What is God’s point? Sanctification… becoming more and more like Christ. Can I become like Him if I am seeking my own happiness? In my opinion, no… not completely. If I am seeking to make myself happy, I do not have my focus where it needs to be. Jesus summed up the law of the prophets as this: Love God and Love your Neighbor. I do not see where my happiness plays a part in that. If I am loving God, I am seeking the things of His heart… not mine. If I am loving my neighbor, I am focusing outward… not inward.

I spent a lot of the first year of our in seminary being focused on myself… what I had lost and how being there was effecting me. Something changed during the summer between his first and second year. I was able to vocalize my hurt and bitterness to the Lord and my husband and slowly,  I was able to start seeing other people again. I was able to start investing in others and look outward instead of just inside myself. A weight was lifted and it was like I was coming out of a horrible fog.

I am NOT saying that Christianity, this life I’ve chosen, is one of chains and dreariness and constant sadness. It is quite the opposite. It is learning deep and abiding JOY as opposed to fleeting HAPPINESS.

This whole line of thinking informs my parenting and homeschooling. I could do the easy thing and give into my kids so they will be happy and my life will be temporarily peaceful. But in the end, that is the greatest injustice I can do for my kids…. to always give them what will make them happy. Happiness is NOT the goal. So… what is the goal?

Sanctification…. Christ Likeness… Eternal Perspective.

I am so glad that I have been adopted into the family of a loving and merciful God who gently teaches me and doesn’t expect me to get it all right upfront.

 …being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

Happy Monday Everyone !!!

Is Happiness Really the Goal

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