Sunday, February 20, 2011

Happiness

A couple weeks ago I met a friend at a local bookstore. I wandered around a bit before she arrived, and came across a pack of cards as I was strolling through an aisle.

The card pack had four different sets of phrases written on the cards. One phrase read: May you be happy always.

I did a double take to make sure I read that correctly. 

May you be happy always.

My first thought was, "What?!"

My second thought was, "Are we really printing this garbage and selling it to people?"

Who decided that life was about being happy always?

Ideas such as these appear in and on just about everything we read and listen to these days.

Billboards. Commercials. Print ads. Electronic ads. Packaging. Mail. Radio.

It's everywhere.

Phrases like "May you be happy always" have penetrated our lives, our homes, our families. We live in a world saturated with entitlement (that's a post for another day), and happiness is something we feel we are entitled to.

If this is the material being published and promoted by our American culture we are in heaps of trouble.

That is, if we believe it, buy it, and share it with others.

Should my ultimate goal in life be happiness always? If I achieve happiness always, then what?

As someone who loves Jesus, I don't believe this is Biblical. Christ came so that we might have life...abundant life! He didn't come so that we might be happy...always.

Being happy always would make life so much easier. I'd love to be happy always! But in the midst of being happy, I'd also be shallow. And self-centered. And lonely.

Friends, if we're not careful, we'll start buying into these myths and they'll soon become our foundations of belief.

If I designed and published a set of cards, they might read something along the lines of:

May you love the Lord your God.
May you trust in the One who calls you by name.
May you experience the peace that passes all understanding.
May you know Christ and the power of His resurrection.

But that's just me.

5 comments:

Leah said...

I love the thought of always being happy. Is it achievable? Perhaps not, but it is something I strive for in my life. I love the Buddhist practice of obtaining peace. . . nirvana, and therefore happiness. I think the same applies to Christianity. When you trust the Lord, you can find ways to be happy even when experiencing earthly hardships. Because the happines lies in the fact that there is eternal life after this.

Becky said...

I agree with you about happiness, but I think we are to be joyful always. I think happiness is situation dependent, while rejoicing is something we choose even in the midst of difficult and trying circumstances.

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" Phil 4:4

"Be joyful always" 1Thes 5:16

Certainly not easy to do. I think what helps me the most to be joyful in times of grief and hardship to to focus on the gift of my salvation.

"Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation." Habakkuk 3:17-18

I think of your family and pray for you often.

Megan said...

Amen Stacy! I agree whole-heartedly with you on this. Maybe if the card had read "May you be joyful always", or "May you be content always". Those are choices or attitudes that we can choose to have anytime and any circumstance - doesn't mean we can't mourn, but we can't allow the hardships in life to bring us down unless it's to bring us down on our knees before Christ.

Thanks for sharing!

Ann said...

I'm with you on this one... we can't escape the fact that we live in a broken world where injustice, suffering, and worst of all death are still a reality. In the face of this brokenness how can we be say we are always to be happy? Jesus was not always happy and He perfectly embodies what it looks like live as a perfect image bearer of God. I think we are always to have hope... as Christians, we are a people of hope.

Leslie Broussard said...

This reminds of all the books I've been reading lately regarding parenting...so many parents make the decision to try to keep their children happy all the time...it's so tragic to see the adult those children become :(