Sunday, July 14, 2013

I'm on the pursuit of happiness (scratch that. joy).

    Have you ever stopped to think what someone would find if they googled you? No? Just me? Okay fine.  Well it just so happens that googling (pretty sure that's a verb nowadays??) is one of my specialties.  When it comes to finding out information, stalking someone via facebook, or checking out facts to make sure I'm all set for my Jeopardy debut- I've got it covered.  My co-workers think I was a P.I. before I started working at the Well For Life Center because it's just my thing.  Along with this skill set comes talents of anticipation, psychological analyzing, and guess and check techniques. And along with that comes this notion- the general population is just plain generally unhappy. You can see it through Facebook comments, it manifests itself through cynical captions, and it can be seen on the faces of not only brooding teens but moody adults in our everyday lives.  But that's not where the buck stops...when we live in a country that is so rich with culture, adventure, educational opportunities, career opportunities, activities, and fast food restaurants how is it possible for so many individuals to be suffering from depression and low self-esteem and eating disorders and body dysmorphia and financial troubles and relational issues and....the list could go on for forever, but don't worry I'll spare you by giving you the answer: because happiness cannot be found amidst paychecks and trophy wives.  It cannot be found in the file cabinets of a third story office or the dining room of an extravagant mansion.  Happiness isn't hiding in the crevices of an in ground pool or in the reflection off of a trophy.  It's not a certain number of likes on a picture or getting asked to prom by the perfect date.  And herein lies the problem.  Not only are people looking for happiness in all of the wrong places- they're also looking for the wrong thing: happiness. 
   Happiness is dependent upon current circumstances while joy is something that can stay in steady state if we find joy in The One who makes us who we are.  Happiness is the rise and fall of a roller coaster while joy is the steady speed of autopilot.  When we pursue so hard after worldly happiness, we often tend to forgot not only The Big Man Upstairs who blesses us and brings us happiness, but also the fact that happiness is only temporary.  And by all means, welcome to America: where the quick fix is everyone's saving grace and hard work and perseverance aren't even in the dictionary anymore.  We're so focused on diet pills and how can I lose ten pounds fast and let me just buy this one more thing and it's only 3 easy payments of $19.99 and I've always wanted a six pack and I wish I could just look like her and why won't she give me the time of day and why doesn't he think I'm pretty enough and if I just had a house then it would all be easier and if my boss would just see my potential then my life would be perfect and if I could just get a raise it would take care of these extra bills and if I could just get my kid onto that traveling soccer team and if I could just get a few more minutes of sleep then everything would be okay and if I could just, if I could just, if I could just, if I could just....AND WHAT I NEED TO KNOW IS WHERE DOES THE LIST END?  Sorry for yelling.  But seriously.  Why are we all waiting for our lives to be absolutely perfect and wonderfully in line before we begin to live them?  Why are we putting off being joyful in sorrows and patient in affliction until the scale says what we want it to or the report card is all A's or that girl gives you her phone number or you win the tournament or your marriage is selfishly pleasing to you or your cancer scans come up clean?  Why? Let me let you in on a little secret: even if you were blessed with all of those things or even one of them...it would never be enough.  The list would just get bigger and grander and more extravagant and harder to reach and more outrageous. Because I can promise you one thing- in this world you will have trouble.  But I can also promise you another thing- you can take heart because God will always be there to hold your hand, to lead you to the next step, to show the road map of your life, to give you the secret code to get past the door, to give you more energy than the life brew of coffee could ever provide.  So, stop waiting; stop hesitating.  Your life will never be perfect (thank you very much Adam and Eve), and if that's what you're waiting for then joy and happiness will always be a unicorn of a concept to you- heard of but never seen. 
     So what your life is imperfect, your body is imperfect, your relationships are imperfect, your job is imperfect.  SO WHAT.  God gave you each and every challenge and obstacle you are facing for a reason and you should consider it pure joy that He's giving you these afflictions to help grow you, to make you stronger.  But you know what else?  You are also allowed to keep joy deep within your heart and let it radiate from your pores on the daily. You are allowed to love your life, every second of it.  You are allowed to find happiness in the ordinary, little things. You are allowed to enjoy every single breath you've been blessed with because that can all be taken away in a millisecond.  Each heart beat you have?  That's a gift with your name written on the tag. How are you using your gift?  Is it standing in front of a mirror critiquing what it sees?  Is it hiding in a closet and avoiding the mess that's in this world?  Is it tearfully avoiding coming out of the bedroom in hopes that your work problems will just go away?  Are you wallowing because you don't have your dream job or you can't stand your neighbors or your parents just don't seem to get you?  Or are you out there loving every single second of every single day and thanking God for all of it like you should be. 
    Keep joy as your steady state- your heart beat- strong, and emanating from above and within, but also find happiness in the highs and lows of life- the peaks and valleys- the tears and smiles- the challenging hills and easy rides with the wind at your back.  Be thankful for a good cup of coffee, fall in love with the characters of a novel, appreciate each strong step you take while pounding the pavement, enjoy a sunrise, spend a few extra minutes with your family, allow yourself to light up when you receive a call/text/e-mail from a loved one, relish in your favorite sweater, take 5 minutes to yourself and just breathe- thanking God for each deep breath, write an encouraging note to a co-worker, organize your closet, pay for someone else's coffee, take a sunset walk, fall asleep with a deliberate smile on your face, make an early morning tee-time, tappreciate crawling into a bed with clean sheets, fall in love with the sound of your puppies padded foot steps, catch 20 minutes of Vitamin D, take the stairs, sit back and watch your kids playing outside and thank God for the fact that you have strong and healthy children- then go join them, shoot hoops, plan a weekend away, make a to-do list and start checking things off, feed your body as fuel, tell someone you love them, hang up pictures, memorize verses, make your favorite childhood treat, find something to look forward to, eat some fro yo (that, my friends, can cure lots of problems :)), and do it all with a joyful heartbeat deep within you and a tone of thanksgiving on your tongue.  Because all of these things are given unto you by your Heavenly Father, and none of these things should be taken for granted.  It all can end in a second.  It really can.  Stop waiting for the stars to align or whatever nonsensical idea you have about your life needing to be perfect before you can enjoy it.  Get out there and start living- maybe for the first time in your life.  Really start living and see how it changes your daily perspective.  Okay, okay.  Getting off my soapbox now and leaving you with this:

"I've learned to be quite content whatever my circumstances.  I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little.  I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or empty.  Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am." Philippians 4:12-13 {The Message}

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