By: Susan Lawrence
“I just want to be happy.”
“You deserve to be happy.”
We have become happy-dependent. We rationalize what we’re doing and what our lives should or shouldn’t be based on a happiness-quotient, which is based on what? Mainly, our feelings and preferences. It’s as if we think the world will be a wonderful place for everyone if we can just be happy.
We can’t all simultaneously be happy, nor can any individual be happy all the time—through every mess of life. We live in a culture that wants to give trophies and accolades to every child who puts on a team t-shirt just to avoid any discouragement for anyone. We post on social media and declare, “What a great life you lead!” But life is difficult. And we can’t be happy about it all the time. By placing “happy” as our right and goal, we misconstrue reality. We miss out on the tools we need to live an intentional, purpose-filled life. We set aside the discipline, pruning, and trust that comes from focusing on God’s purpose more than our own comfort. We might appease ourselves and others temporarily, but we end up doing more damage to ourselves and others in the long run. What we expect or demand in our “now” robs us of the fullness of someday. Happy gets in the way of joy and contentment. Pride gets in the way of faith and trust.
We can be happy-dependent. It’s our choice. Even if we declare we want more meaning and purpose in our lives, our daily choices and attitudes might reveal we are more happy-dependent than we plan to be. We tell people we love we just want them to be happy, but doesn’t that desire for them have limits? Would we truly be content and supportive if they were genuinely happy while doing hurtful, destructive things to themselves and others?
Happy is often defined by our own parameters of happiness. There will always be issues with striving for happiness. We are all too different, and each of us changes over time. That’s why there’s no reliability in happiness. We can’t depend on happiness, so happy-dependence is a worthless pursuit.
Contentment is a worthy pursuit. Joy is a worthy pursuit. Peace, faith, and humility are worthy pursuits. Any attribute of God is a worthy pursuit, but most of all, pursuing God Himself is worthwhile. Pursuing Him provides us with purpose.
What does God want for you? Your pursuit of that truth and your response to it will not be easy but it will give you purpose. That you can depend on.