So wait… isn’t the saying “The Pursuit of Happiness”?
Well… yes, but you should know me well enough by now to know I have a spin on it that the Lord has shown me, and if you’ll bear with me, I’ll share it with you, too!
Sure, the tendency to pursue happiness has been the mainstay of generations, countries, and humanity well before recorded time. Unwittingly, we are actually fighting against the sadness, the misery, and really the inevitable demise of our lives without Jesus… it is a sadless life we are seeking and don’t really realize it. An effort of ours to be ‘less sad’. Sure, we call it happiness… but the very BEST we can do as humans is really just be less sad. No… do not write me off as a pessimist, a fatalist, or even just depressed and discouraged with life today.
See… Thomas Jefferson was one of the original drafters of the phrase, “…which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness;” in the Declaration of Independence for the Unites States Constitution. His declaration was one of hope, one of achievement, and certainly one that would help encourage and define the very promise of a new life in a new and free country. Something of a posture that would help shape the American Pride.
Happiness however, is tough to measure, tough to formally define (varying opinions)… just when or where it is that you cross the line from being sad, to happy. Nonetheless, pursuing happiness seems to indicate that happiness is something you can chase, hunt down, and even corral into the confines of your life… a form of taking ownership, as it were.
But, this is actually just pursuing a less-sad (happier) state in your life. Sure, it is a twist of words, and maybe even a ‘say the same thing, but a different way’ mechanism of speech. The core point is, that our efforts to catch happiness is actually missing the very point of the origin or source of happiness… in our efforts to avoid God, Jesus and anything to do with spiritual guidance, we inadvertently search to replace His satisfying grace, His fulfilling peace, and certainly His overflowing blessings on our lives.
Efforts of Happiness
No one really knows your intent… what drives you… what motivates you through your daily life… that subtle, quiet, protected place deep in your spirit that seeks pleasure, happiness, and fulfillment.. even longing. Along the paths of our lives, we have so many moments of gratification and they trick us into thinking and feeling like we just need to do that again and again, and more and more… and happiness will establish a pattern in our lives. Sigh… we’ll do ‘that’ so much that it’ll feel normal and seem as though it is actually a base trait that everyone has (or should have, at least), and we can obtain a level of happiness that is mostly satisfactory… mostly good enough… mostly better than ‘that person, there’ type life.
Even something as simple as a night out, a hobby or a special craft project or even vacation ‘adventures’. These all help to provide a goal to achieve (waiting in anticipation of it’s arrival) and enjoyment during the event, and certainly that whole reminiscing part that allows you to remember ‘that’ you experienced happiness. But, that is certainly the point… it is past tense now and never sustainable.
Well then… pursue something more lasting, more honorable, bigger than life as it were… such as family, a love devotion with a mate, or possibly even ‘life trappings’ (homes, cars, boats, etc)… these tangible pieces of our lives certainly do provide an inner peace… a sense of belonging… and purpose in many cases. Sure, they can burden your life, too. But since they are tangible, some of them are also disposable and then replaced with another promise of happiness!
You may actually have a life-long quest… and deeply passionate goal… even a resolute spirit to ‘right the wrongs’ in this world. These can certainly provide a deep sense of self-worth… a gratitude that will mimic the peace of God… a heartfelt purpose that actually tends to justify your calling, your place in this world… even your core purpose… your very identity!
All these are so tough to see that they are merely a pursuit of sadlessness… mainly because, they all have to do with you… have to do with your happiness… have to do with a core selfishness that the ‘pursuit of happiness’ disguises from you. This happiness is not sustainable, though…. it does not perpetuate… it does not spawn more happiness… it is not contagious by others who in turn express happiness around their world and in turn that happiness comes ‘full circle’ back to you!
See?? Happiness is merely a short experience of wellness, of being settled, even glee, jubilation, and exhilaration… but, this does’t go on and on. Once this happiness is obtained, it begins to dwindle… to lose it’s glimmer… even to be less and less satisfying, oddly… to finally get to the point where ‘it no longer does it for you’. Ultimately, you are back to being not-happy…. not thrilled… not excited. Looking back, it all seemed as though it really was just an effort to be less sad… less discouraged… less disappointed.
The Consuming Happiness
Now, through all the years of man’s existence on this planet, there has always been a lasting happiness… an enduring peace… a deeply fulfilling presence in your life that is distinctly better than tangible pursuits… we’ve just spent so much time looking past it… looking around it… even looking right at it and scoffing.
Sure, you may already be shrugging off anything to do with God… with Jesus… with the Holy Spirit. Unwittingly, you have trained your heart to listen to your brain and your brain works through the logic, the impracticality of shaping your life so that God can bless you instead of these tangible things attempting to satisfy. Please don’t give up waiting and listening… please don’t cast this aside all too quickly… I am asking you to consider that the things you have been doing all your life are ‘wrong’… you’ve just been doing them ‘that way’ so long… it feels right. And, now that you are considering trying ‘this right way’ of doing things, that feels wrong… so we tend to stop… we tend to surrender and just go back to what we have always been doing. After-all, it WAS providing some solace… some peace… some figment of completeness in your life.
When you’ve been doing the wrong thing for so long it feels right, so much so that trying to do the right thing feels wrong; that is wrong.
— G.W. Bill Elliott Jr (@vocalbillity)
One of the best ways to turn that ‘trait’ back in your favor is to begin doing what you do NOT for yourself! OK… you may have quickly thought, “Hey… I am already doing all this for my family”. Here is what I mean, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;“. See that? Change WHO you’re doing things for and your life will take a turn for happiness, switching from the side of sadlessness. That scripture is actually found in Colossians 3:23, and pay close attention to the “…heartily, as to the Lord” part. This is not a ‘how much can I sacrifice’ solution… obtaining His happiness is not at your expense. Once you begin looking at what you do with a “who you are doing it for” perspective, happiness has a place to reside in your life.
Sure, you may quickly retort, “But, I am already doing my work, my activities, my goals in life FOR my family… and I am passionate, committed, and dead-serious devoted to them, too”. Again, that is quite noble… that is admirable… that is even honorable… but, it is not sustainable. I mean, sure you can keep on doing that. But, the Lord will fill your spirit with a permeating peace… a deeply fulfilling presence. It is a life-balance presence He provides.
See… Jesus told us in John 10:10, “…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly”. We all have ‘life’. We all live, breath, toil, play… you know… life! But, Jesus takes this quite a ways farther and promises “that they might have it more abundantly”. No longer are you working to be less sad… He will give you happiness abundantly.
Pursue Happiness, Fulfillment, His Saving Grace
Now, to pursue ‘things of God’ is easily tough! I mean, it is easy because you don’t really move… you essentially surrender, more than anything else. And… there is the tough part. Our lives… our society… our world has influenced us so much that we knee-jerk toward trying to DO something to get something… to earn something… to have a ‘worth exchange’, as it were. With the Lord though… He just wants you to surrender (the tough part). No… not ‘sit in a puddle’, just take a break from trying things your way… relax and let Him show you His way!
See… in Matthew 6:33, Jesus stated, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” It is the ‘…all these things will be added to you’ that is SO important. Pursuing God… surrendering your life, heart, and selfishness… means that God will ultimately give you all these things. Seems like an end-around, I know… but consider this… along His way, others will be influenced by your life… others will have a mentor… others will impact others! You’ll make a wake of God’s mercy!
Sure… it also may sound and seem like you have to lose your life… give up your dreams… essentially, ‘die’ as a human and let this “God guy” do His stuff through you. Uh… NO! Remember I noted this earlier.. Jesus also said, I am come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly, which is found in John 10:10. The main purpose of our lives… or our love… of our very being while here on earth, is that we would seek to fulfill your soul from within, not from without. He intends to give you life (sure, everyone else has life already… whoopie, you may say), but He promises it will be a ‘more abundant‘… uh… not only abundant… MORE ABUNDANT! That’s “a lot of a lot”!
The Pursuit of Sadlessness is a process by which we work to fulfill our lives from the outside inward (from without). Learn to resist that urge to ‘be gratified’, to feel good about ourselves… even to obtain accolades from others around. These tend to validate we are doing well, and on the right track… and that is the gotcha! Our efforts to ‘do good’ and to ‘be involved’ and to even volunteer and sacrifice without God’s leading on your life, can lead to a false positive experience. You get the feeling all is well (a positive reinforcement), but these ‘works’ actually disgust God and He’ll actually reject you!
Now… let God wash over your soul… let His Spirit guide you… let His hand touch you and heal your heart, mind, and soul… make you a whole and vibrant person!