The Secret to Happiness?
It is remarkable easy to be depressed these days. We have to look no further than our own neighborhoods to witness violence, hate, destruction, just the lack of human decency. It seems like every other day there is a story of a mass shooting or terrorist attack.
It can be overwhelming really.
The thing is, it doesn’t even take these type of global or large scale events to make us feel like the world is crashing down around us. Just the trials and tribulations that come along with everyday life take their toll as well. There is no lack of things to be worried about.
A while back I was talking with a friend of mine who was dealing with all this kind of stuff. Worrying about problems of his own...problems of others….problems with life in general. I shared something with him that had been bouncing around in my head for awhile. Something that had helped me get through the dark times.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
I’ve been going to church my whole life. I still remember laying my head on my mother’s lap when I was little right about when the sermon started. I’m the first to admit - there’s a lot of stuff that’s hard to understand, or flat out doesn’t seem to make sense. One of those things was the concept of not worrying, and handing over your problems to God. One of those sounds great things, but impossible to do.
But one day it hit me. Why am I trying to do God’s job?
All the time I spent worrying, or condemning, or judging others it finally hit me; God has got this. I’m off the hook. It’s not my job. Sure I need to help, love, support others, but bear the burden and weight of all the other problems? I felt like I was being told “You worry about you, I’ve got the rest”.
The resulting calm lasted about 60 seconds.
It took only that long for me to remember I’m a mess. I’ve got about a million of my own problems. Work, family, commitments...the list goes on and on. What am I supposed to do now?
I was sitting in church a little while ago (not napping) and mentioned throughout the sermon was the idea of seeing God through us. This wasn’t a new idea. In fact, the idea of God working in the world through people was a theme throughout many discussions. I get it, it makes sense. It was one of those “puppies are cute” phrases to me. Sure it was true, but it left you with the feeling of “so?”
But as I continued to think about how to deal with all my problems, and the feeling of not gaining any traction with any of it, I started to put some things together. Maybe I don’t really have as many concerns as I think I do. Maybe instead of trying to figure out the million of issues I felt was in front of me, I really had only one thing to think about?
Wait, what? Instead of trying to juggle problem after problem after problem, I really only had one thing to focus on? Sign me up.
Maybe my only real concern was being able to answer the question of “Can others experience God through me?” I felt I was starting to get it. I don’t have to find a million answers to a million questions. I can start trusting in the promise of we are not alone, and God wants happiness for us. In fact, could it be God is even showing me how to be happy?
Hold on a second. Did I just say there is now only one question and I already have the answer for it?
The secret to happiness is living my life in such a way so others can see the grace and glory of God.
Ok, I get it. That may not sound like much of an answer. Doing that can still be really hard. But here is how I view it.
I think my job is remember that. To keep it in mind as I make decisions, as I talk with people, as I live my life. Does it mean I always know what to do? No. Does it mean I won’t make mistakes? No. But it does mean I keep trying, and when I fail I try again.
In the movie “Megan Leavy” (which is awesome by the way, especially if you love dogs) I think her Dad said it best.
“Dad - ...I want you to be a person who shows up. For work, for friend’s funerals, for life.
Megan - I’ve tried, I’ve failed
Dad - So fail again, and just keep failing until they’re tossing dirt on your corpse."
This isn’t about doing it because we’re so good at it. It’s about always trying to do it because we aren’t
I shared this story with my friend. It seemed to make him feel better.