“…I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:11b-13 (ESV)
Are you happy?
By happy, I do not mean mere giddy emotion. I mean fulfilled.
Overflowing with peace.
Are you ready for true confession time? I have spent – in the sense of wasted, not invested – an awful lot of my life being unhappy. I have pursued many avenues chasing the ever elusive “happiness” I so deeply crave, and have always turned up empty handed (in the long run).
There have been plenty of joyous moments, to be sure. I mean amazingly joyous. The problem – well, part of the problem – is in living to pursue those moments. The mountain highs. The incredible vistas. The high points.
But, as much as we enjoy the mountaintop, the air there is thin. The view is beautiful, but life is unsustainable at the highest peaks. Inevitably, the Sherpa is going to bring back down to the valley.
If you live to experience cresting the peak you will learn to detest life in the valley.
Where you live.
Where I live.
Where reality lives.
There is nothing wrong with having the mountaintop experiences. We should all have them, and have something to look forward to. But there is no reason to forsake the valley life – the here and now. We look so hard to the external for our fulfillment, our joy, our peace…
We should really be looking upward.
Will a new car, new home, riches make you happy? It may bring you some level of happiness.
Until the car breaks down.
Until the home springs leaks or drowns you in debt.
Until the taxman cometh (and he will).
Until the market takes a downturn and wipes out your 401(k).
There is no certainty in the stuff of this world.
May I show you a picture of happiness?
Here is what happy looks like:
This is my son. He is a happy kid. He isn’t jaded by life. He doesn’t worry about bills or groceries or anything else.
He isn’t afraid. He is who he is and he is comfortable in his own skin.
He loves others, cares about them, wants them to be happy.
Sure, he has his unhappy moments. He is human.
But that isn’t his focus.
Nor should it be ours.
We cannot wish our lives away. We cannot find true contentment in life’s externals. We will never be happy by trying to gather happiness for ourselves.
We have to learn to live in the moment. We have to find our pleasure in being who we are, and using our strengths and blessings to bless others instead of feathering our own nests. We have to be content with who we are, where we are, what we are. And, most importantly, who we are with.
Are you happy? Do you want to be happy? Then stop pursuing happiness. Instead, pursue Love – giving love, not getting it. Seek to help, not be helped. Seek God first and follow His lead. Be here now.
Live confident, boldly, fearlessly, joyously, rooted in Love and following Christ, in the moment, in the valley. Enjoy the mountain peaks. But live for today.