Are you happy? I’ve been thinking about happiness lately and I’m struggling to find the right way to express my thoughts. I wonder, is happiness your thief? We’ve all seen the picture of the donkey pulling a man who is holding a fishing pole. At the end of the fishing pole is a carrot for the donkey. The donkey forever moves forward toward the carrot but never receives the carrot. Happiness is our carrot, stealing our time and energy and desire. If happiness is our end goal then our lives are filled with torment and frustration and loss. Christianity is often sold as a “get-happy-quick” scheme that will put a miraculous end to everything that ails you. In response to this fallacy, we point to things that make us unhappy and label them as a work of the enemy. We use happiness as our barometer for the value of life thus making it our Lord. In this way, we serve happiness. Yet, if God is Lord then what do we do with happiness?
Is it possible that happiness is not the greatest thing in the world? Is there anything better to live for than happiness?
I’m no expert on this love and happiness thing but I know this: living for happiness brought me pain and living for love brought me love. We enjoy things in Uganda that make us happy but it’s not all roses. It wasn’t all roses in America either. We don’t care! Happiness is not something the Metz family talks about all that much. It is our life’s purpose to live for love. Love causes us to surrender deeply and sacrifice joyfully. Pain is not our enemy. Happiness is not our Lord.
|Photo taken Thanksgiving Day, our first in Uganda.|
In the loneliness of a first Thanksgiving in Uganda, when our cheeks are wet with tears and a poor Skype connection is the only family we have, we are not harboring bitterness against the will of God that took us so far away. When our hearts ache for the old normal and our patience is tested in new culture we do not resent the God we love.
The greatest happiness we have ever known is a byproduct of the deepest love we've ever given. We aren't happy because we sought happiness. We are happy because we love.
In closing, if you wish to consider how this thinking applies to your life, try answering these questions:
- How many relationships do you have that are motivated and sustained by love even if unhappiness occurs?
- Could your personal budget best be defined as a pursuit of happiness or an expression of love?
- When you decide to quit something, how often is happiness the reason?
- How does unhappiness in your life effect the way you praise God?