If you’re happy and you know it… Say “Amen”
Clap your hand
Stomp your feet
Much of my life’s energy has been spent on trying to make people happy in one way or another:
Perfecting my behavior
Professing to be Christian
Parenting with more yes than no
Peacemaking at all costs
It’s a pleasant occupation at its best, exhausting at its worst. Along the way I discovered that my best efforts to comply with the endless expectations of others, however noble, meant that living from a place of internal authenticity (What is that, anyway?) was lost to me.
I discovered that for all the effort, I rarely made another as happy as I thought I did or might have wished. If so, it was not for long…and never long enough, which becomes a trifle unsettling as the truth dawns,
So it was incredibly freeing to discover that others’ essential happiness is their responsibility after all and not mine. Who knew?!
Apparently the apostle and writer Paul knew because he said, “As much as lieth within you, live at peace with all men,” implying that there may be other mitigating factors at play.
While it’s not necessarily my intention to make people unhappy, I suppose it’s inevitable that I will disappoint a few. Things are not as they once were nor am I as I have been, neither of which is surprising. Few among us go through life unchanged. However, the ways in which things and I are not the same routinely surprises even me. Perhaps especially me. That slow, intentional process is what this blog is about.
According to brain research, whenever we encounter change, we resist at first, since one of the brilliant organ’s primary functions is to maintain “normal”. It gets a little uncomfortable when it’s asked to assimilate anything out of its ordinary (which is, of course, a major clue as to why much of parenting can be difficult…for everyone).
Perhaps the first discomfort will come when I say that my world view is hopelessly skewed by both belief in and experience of a benevolent Creator God who, according to the Christian narrative, bothered to shrink into human skin in the form of a Hebrew child named Jesus, to show us what God is like, and how to do this thing called love.
Or perhaps it will come because I don’t say things the way you’re used to hearing them–or used to me saying them if you know me at all.
I do hope your being here brings you joy and that you find yourself wanting to hang out here long and often. I do hope you will resist the urge to resist, that you will remain open to what transpires in these conversations, and that you don’t become too unhappy with me. I do hope you will consider what is offered and know that it comes from a place of genuine love and desire for you, for me, and for others to know Freedom and Life.
But, as you might have guessed, I’m not as worried about that as I once was. The childish shouting, clapping, stomping and spinning to keep everyone happy has finally ceased–Thanks be to God.
Unless you’ve been under a rock or away from pop culture for any other legitimate reason, you are familiar with Pharrell Williams tune, Happy. If this version doesn’t move you, check your pulse.
The Happiness Project, a book and blog by Gretchen Rubin Happiness Projectis some of my favorite reasoned inspiration. Check out her new book Better Than Before, on the relationship between of habits and our happiness, here.
How do Paul’s words affect you? Do you find that you lose yourself in the attempt to keep everyone else happy? What helps you in this regard? (Click under the post title to comment.)