This seems to be a pursuit that most people are on for the vast majority of their lives. It’s strange how hard it is. We often look for happiness in items, in trinkets or people. I have always struggled with this aspect of my life. Even when I have everything I could ever need, I am always looking towards the horizon. I guess a part of me always felt to be happy meant to be improving my situation, making more friends, finding more people to talk to, always building my marriage. I guess I could have been considered to be Debby Downer for at least a good portion of the time. What is it I was seeking I wonder, what was it that kept me looking for more? The truth is there was something missing in my life, Jesus. When I realized I hadn’t given myself up to the Lord, not completely, by the time I did it was too late, my life, as I had known it was over. I put so much into my worldly possessions, my wife, my home, my job, and my friends, that in one big event, my very foundation cracked and toppled my own personal city. The changes in my life would be abrupt and violent. They would reshape my personal universe and it would never be the same again.
What’s the trick though to finding that happy place? In Peter Pan it’s finding a happy memory, one memory that stands out of pure joy to hold on to. Even in the midst of so much pain and anguish we are surely able to come up with something. One thing I’ve found is we place so much on the world, that we forget this isn’t the end. Sure we don’t want to be miserable day in and day out either, but it’s more about the mission, the journey, the race, then it is about today. When we change our mindset to the present, the mission Jesus gave to us, and we take heed to the lessons Christ taught us and the teaching of the disciples, we will find that happiness is rejoicing in the Lord and the Lord alone. There will be trouble but in that trouble we can use those times to show the kind of person we are. We can make those horrible situations into a teaching lesson for others, and show how God wants us to behave even when the odds are stacked against us, even when their looks to be no worldly hope, because to say there’s no hope is a lie. There were many times when King David had the odds stacked against him, but it was through the grace of God that he emerged victorious. Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” It’s not an easy thing to be content when you’re in suffering. It’s harder to find happiness in the midst of want and destruction. Philippians 4:11 “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” Human nature is to want and want more, want what we can’t have, and often take what we want even if it’s not ours to have.
2 Timothy 3:1-7 “3 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.” When we go through life taking what we want no matter the consequences we find ourselves destroying the very fabric of order in the world. I was recently the victim of something like this. With no limit to the amount of pain one feels when something near and dear to them is taken away, alas the pain is more when it’s done so by more then one party. The sad truth is greed and desires of the worldly flesh now resonate with the world. Paul Harvey did a report on ‘If I was the Devil.” During this little expo he noted that if he was the Devil he’d convince the world that drugs are okay, that swinging is more fun, that hard work is no longer the wave of the future.
I think the pursuit of happiness falls within each moment. I believe that to truly find it you need to learn to change your mindset away from the pain and suffering and embrace them. How we embrace our pain is hard. How we find contentment even in the center of the worst storms we may face is never an easy task. For every situation however there must be at least something that is positive, there must be at least some light at the end of the tunnel. We often spend so much time focused on the negative part of a tough spot that we fail to look at the positive situations and be thankful for them. For me this has been a long hard struggle and I am by no means perfect at this, but everyday I try to work towards this goal. Am I happy every day and do I find joy in my sufferings, of course not. But what I do find is a little bit of peace knowing that God is in control over everything I am going through, and when others hurt me, or forsake me, I know that God has not. People will say and do mean things to you for a variety of reasons, each more plausible as the next. As much as it hurts that trust and loyalty may be broken, know that through this situation you will learn, you will grow, and you can make your tomorrow a better place. When a forest grows to big purging fires must take place in order for the forest to grow back and regain some of what was lost. Our lives it seems are much in the same. Sometimes we must let go of the baggage that weighs us down. We must learn to let go of people who are always bringing us down. Now, I will say this, when I say bringing us down, I don’t mean people who are going through rough times. What I mean by that is when people actively say things to you to bring you down, or are negative and hurtful. If someone is not actively trying to be there for you, to lift you up, to help you get out of the hole you’re in, those are the people you don’t need around anymore.
Don’t fall victim to your own pain, don’t let your pain or your own struggles from finding the happy places in your life. When we truly embrace and accept that bad things will happen, and truly embrace the fact that God is sovereign we can let go of many of the pessimistic views we once held. We all loose friends, we all loose our jobs, our families, our loved ones; it’s a matter of life following its natural evolution. Be glad for the positive things you can take out of your memories, and cast away the sorrows. Don’t let life pass you by in misery; it’s too short to do so. Don’t be a slave to this world. Don’t let the world dictate who you are. The world cannot define you, only you can do that. You have the power to show the people around you how you handle each situation, and in every case you are the only one who can show who you are. As one of my favorite quotes go, “It’s not who I am underneath, it’s what I do that defines me.” (Batman Begins)