Saturday, November 8, 2014

Why Happiness Shouldn't Matter

   "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength."
Philippians 4:11-13.

    I want to learn that secret too. I haven't yet. 

    These verses are such a 180 degree shift in philosophy from what our culture preaches. What we hear pretty much 24/7 is that happiness is the ultimate goal. "Do what makes you happy." Now I am not saying that happiness is a bad thing. It's a great thing. I hope that you and I both have lots of it throughout life. But if we are seeking it as the ultimate goal, we will be disappointed often, and life will become one big pointless chase after things that do not have eternal value. The world can be a very sad place. Joy vs. happiness is an important distinction to learn.

   There was an mid 90s Steven Curtis Chapman song called "Rubber Meets the Road" that I loved. It spoke to truly living the Christian life and not just simply talking the talk. It is applicable in this same discussion. Sometimes for the rubber to meet the road, sacrifices have to be made. A new set of "perspectacles" must be put on. At times, this is very, very hard.

  Sometimes Scripture comes alive as we go through life in ways that it might not have before. Because I was raised up hearing the words in Philippians 4 often, and also because I come from an upper middle class American background, where I wanted for nothing and had every need met before I even knew it was a need--I don't know that I truly know, in the deepest sense of the word, what these words mean. Paul wrote them while in prison. I have experienced nothing even CLOSE to what he had at the time of his writings. But, what I do know is that while my life is quite different from Paul's, I can apply the Lord's words through him to my own life in different ways.

 T.Mark has a habit of asking for more of something before he is through with what he already has. He will be halfway through eating a cookie, and ask for more. He will get upset when I give him a little baggie of Cheerios because as he says (in a whining voice), he wants "LOT of 'em!". I have to remind him over and over that he has plenty right in front of him, and that if he finishes them all and needs more, I will be happy to give him some. Or, in some scenarios, if I know for whatever reason (we are having supper soon, etc) that it is best for him not to have any more, then I will tell him he has enough. 

  And whoo-wee the tantrum that will occasionally ensue. Thankfully we are halfway through the twos and just now hitting the terrible--which isn't really all that bad--but those tantrums are no fun when they come around. A sweet friend with a little boy the same age as T.Mark texted me the following, verbatim, a few days ago: "The. Patience. It. Takes. To. Deal. With. A. Toddler. All. Day." 

   I laughed, because I totally got where she is coming from. But my next thought was, I wonder if the Lord ever thinks to himself, "The. Patience. It. Takes. To. Deal. With. Catherine. All. Day." 

   Contentment is going to be the word of the week around here. It will not necessarily be easy, but I am going to pray for and seek it wholeheartedly. 


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