Searching For Happiness

I had dinner with some friends this week. They’ve both given me permission to use their names. (but I’ve changed them anyway). Annie is 30-er, um, something and her roommate, Laura, proudly announces her age as 33. They’re lovely. Laura says she’s ‘happily’ divorced. Annie is currently living out her life in quiet desperation, still waiting for ‘Mr. Right’ to come along.

I often remind her that he has knocked on her door many times, but she needs to be a bit more temperate in her expectations and open her door a bit wider. But she doesn’t see this. On this visit Annie (I like to call her Annie Angst), was doing the death scene from Camille over the fact she had found a grey hair in the midst of all the blonde lockets on her head. This catapulted her into a spiralling vortex of self-flagellation.

‘Am I too fat?' (sure, and so was Karen Carpenter!), 'Am I too old?' (Yep, 34ish is absolutely ancient!), 'Am I too dumb?' (well, I could tell you a few stories...) This was at the beginning of the evening. Later, it moved on to her work; ‘what if the new boss doesn’t like what I’ve done, what if someone else takes all the credit,’ and on it went. Until finally, Laura piped in and shouted ‘why can’t you be normal like the rest of us and take a Valium!’

Sometimes it’s easy to see the self-centred fears that our ego uses to betray us. These destructive behaviours can cut us off from the true value of our life-they can cut us off from happiness. That is what Jesus is trying to help us see: If you give in to fear and try to save your life by clinging to every piece of it tightly, you'll just lose it all.

If you want to be happy, Jesus says ‘take up your cross,’ which means face your work or profession joyfully and with verve. Engage yourself; joyfully contribute your talents to your profession. And whilst we all feed on compliments, try not to expect it. Some people do not possess the ability to compliment good work.

If you want to be happy, Jesus says ‘deny yourself,’ which means do not fall prey to your own ego. Be happy with who you are. It will help you see the world differently and you may be surprised to find there are many more wonderful things awaiting you.

There is an alternative to the above. It’s shutting out the world around you and running away from yourself. But you’ll quickly find that you’re even more alone.

Jesus' advice is, relax in the Lord. Forget yourself and your fears. Hand over your life to the Holy Spirit inside you. And then, with the freedom and energy that only He can give, spend your life-every bit of it-on the good work our Father has given you. Happiness will follow as surely as winter turns to spring.

Then He said to them all: If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. Luke 9:23-24



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