What Do YOU Want to Feel Like Today?

2 03 2011

If you could pick one word to describe how you want to feel today — all day, and at the end of the day — what would it be?

I am curious enough to ask:

I don’t know at this point what the answers will be, but I wonder if the majority of us just want to be happy. I guess I can only go from what I would say and, yes, I want to be happy. I would settle for “content” but ideally I want the next notch up: happiness. I like happiness: Happiness is a mental state of well-being characterized by positive emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy (Wikipedia)

That sounds about right! I want to be anywhere in that range; but happiness is elusive. I can turn over all kinds of stones and find a touch of it here and there but it’s like a soap bubble, so fragile and guaranteed (guaranteed!) to pop. And it is unpredictable as well; I can be in a situation that SHOULD make me happy and instead I feel blue. What’s with that?

The desire to be happy makes people do crazy things: trade in spouses, abandon their families and friendships, overspend, abuse alcohol, steal, surgically alter their bodies, starve, plead with the universe, sit through seminars, pop pills, tip-toe around conflict, avoid commitment, keep everything in the shallow end, and lie…lie and tell yourself you are happy.

What have you done to manufacture happiness?

“Research has identified a number of attributes that correlate with happiness: relationships and social interaction, extraversion, marital status, employment, health, democratic freedom, optimism, endorphins released through physical exercise and [I like this] eating chocolate, religious involvement, income and proximity to other happy people. Happiness is mediated through the release of so-called happiness hormones.” Wikipedia

Happiness hormones? Gotta get me some of those!

Different things make me feel happy (and a good piece of chocolate has its merits), but the deep happy comes when I am witness to something bigger than me, something I will call “supernatural”, something outside of myself that can be so simple, yet is profoundly beautiful.The real happiness comes when I realize that my story is part of something eternal, something that can’t be erased by the ticking of the clock, something unbreakable.

I am not sure I can even explain this, but I felt it this past weekend. It happened in less than 2 seconds. I was sitting in the back of a room and I saw two people look at each other, say a couple of words and that was it.

I saw it, and I felt a shot of the pure stuff: happiness.

See, the background to that conversation was that a month ago, these two people didn’t know each other. The background to that conversation is that one is a person who loves Jesus and the other is someone just finding their way. They were sitting together that day; a month ago they were strangers. One person’s life is pretty put together; the other person’s life is pretty challenging; but there is something that is pulling them into a friendship and I know (I know!) God is going to use that.

So there they are, sitting together and there is a 2 second conversation and I feel a download: God’s Spirit communicating to mine saying, “this is good.” In an instant I realize that I am a part of this; I have had a tiny little part to play in this story and I feel the rush. I can’t explain it, but feeling God’s pleasure is unlike any pleasure I can manufacture through a purchase, a meal, a trip, a paycheck, or any other experience.

I so identify with what Luke writes: “But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned to me by the Lord Jesus…” (Acts 20:24a). I don’t always appreciate “the work assigned to me” but sometimes I really do. On days when I lift my eyes and see what God is up to, when I see the “good news about God’s wonderful kindness and love” (as the verse goes on to say) in action, it is electric.

So at the end of today, I still want to be happy, but it is completely connected to the worth of my life; to the work of my life assigned to me. When I get it that everything is dust except for that, there is happiness.

Funny how cheesy songs from one’s past can bubble up to the surface. Here’s one from the dark ages that actually just says it:

“Happiness is to know the Savior,
Living a life within His favor,
Having a change in my behavior,
Happiness is the Lord.”*

— Teresa Klassen

(Words and music by Ira F. Stanphill)
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