I'm just going to start this post out with a revelation that is so simple but so true: God wants you to be happy. Truly, deeply, radically happy. Down to the marrow of your bones. He desires for your natural state to be one of pure, child-like joy. As Eastern traditions phrase it, He wants you to be "in bliss." Really, He does.
To clarify: that does not mean He wants you to be rich, powerful, famous or even particularly successful. He could not care less if you are popular. He doesn't rate your productivity and dole out joy in relation to your output. In fact, if your modus operandi is the pursuit of the above-listed goals, you are probably pretty miserable. I'm not saying you don't have your moments, but more likely than not you are most often stressed out and dissatisfied. At least I was.
I lived the majority of my life exercising my Constitutional right to pursue happiness. In my younger, wilder days this involved mostly the pursuit of selfish pleasure which, I promise you, ironically leads to abject misery and possibly suicidal depression. I had lots of money and a successful career: unhappy. Lots of friends: still unhappy. Lots of stuff: unhappy, unhappy, unhappy.
I'm not talking about the fleeting sensation of happiness. I enjoyed lots of that; I had good times. What I'm talking about is how you feel when you wake up in the morning, even when there are challenges in your life. How you feel when you are stuck in a traffic jam or inconvenienced in some other way. If you feel despair, anger, or irritability more often than not then, no matter how much fun you are having, you're not really, truly happy. To put it another way: if your happiness is dependent on your circumstances, then you are not experiencing joy and bliss on the level you could be. On the level God wants you to be. On the level you were made to be.
Don't believe you were made to experience joy everyday? Blow some bubbles for a toddler. Really, go to the dollar store, pick up some bubble stuff and, if you don't have your own young child, visit a friend's. Blow and observe. That is who you are, deep down inside, who you were created to be. After all, Jesus said the kingdom of heaven belongs to little children. That delight, that wonder can be yours again.
I know because I live in delight and from a worldly perspective, I shouldn't. I don't have very much money (to put it mildly) though I have many debts to repay. My life is far from glamorous. My child, who I loved as if he was my heart itself, is dead. I could go on, but I think that is enough to cause most people to complain or be unhappy. But, as I was driving down the highway yesterday morning, I realized that when I'm in neutral, not really thinking about anything in particular, just sort of hanging out and "being," I'm really crazy happy. Deep down joyful.
I don't worry about stuff any more. I don't fret and if I find myself doing so I am pretty good at cutting it out. I have momentary irritations but they resolve quickly. I don't dislike anyone. People get on my nerves less and less. Things make me smile. I notice how pretty trees and clouds are. I know it may sound corny, but it's true and I want to share it. Because in a season where people tend to be busy, stressed out and downright mean (for example, check out some Yahoo! footage from Black Friday... eek!), my home is peaceful and filled with a contagious joy.
What did I do to achieve such a state, you might ask? I stopped "doing" anything. I took God's nudging and put on the brakes. I got still and knew that He was God. I spent a lot of time breathing. I stopped systematically going down my prayer list and just got quiet and lifted up my heart to Him. I didn't get up early to do this. I didn't find time away from my kids. I did it while I was driving to the store, as I drifted off to sleep at night, while I gave the kids a bath. I stopped having rules for my spiritual pursuit of happiness and started just being spiritual whenever I thought of it, just thanking God while I did the dishes.
This isn't the first time in my life that I've come to this realization. I think, actually, it's the third or fourth. But it's nice to know it never loses its efficacy. That if you lose your serenity it is always re-attainable. Because I'm really, seriously, at peace again. I'm goofy with happiness. I'm floating around on a little pink cloud, Buddy-the-Elf style. And while my feelings are hurt-able, I'm not ever off course for long.
Another amazing thing that is happening is, now that I'm in this state of bliss, I find myself doing more. Effortlessly and from desire, rather than obligation. I cooked a huge Thanksgiving meal from scratch with tiny children underfoot and loved every minute of it. I reorganized my closet and it was fun (really, it was). I'm having a great time writing this blog post. I'm not trying harder; I'm praying more and God is doing more. I'm less of me and more of Him and it's stinking awesome.
So let go and let God. Be still and know that HE IS. Psalm 37:4 says, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." I'm here to testify that it is true! Spend time with Him and you'll discover that it is so easy to delight in Him; He's delightful. Burn your to-do list, shoot your TV. Take sick leave if you have to and get with God. You don't need fancy meditation, just sit with Him and breathe His name. He's going to delight your heart and fulfill every desire. My heart's desires were to walk in faith, to have a peaceful home, and to be happy. Voila! Done, done, done. I also desire to raise my children to love and serve Him, to share His love with others who do not know Him or could know Him better, to pay off my debts, and to provide a healthy lifestyle (food, exercise, environment) for myself and my family. I don't have to do anything to achieve these goals. I'm just going to continue to delight in Him, to seek His will, and these things will be added unto me. It's happening already and it's going to continue. The desire in my heart to take the actions necessary on my part will grow and grow until it's harder not to do these things than it is to do them. I don't want a bowl of cereal anymore (those who know me well will recognize this as a miracle); I want to bake a loaf of homemade bread and cook a strata. I don't want to go shopping and accumulate more stuff (another miracle); I want to go for a walk in the park with the people I love best. I'm serious. It's happening and I'm loving it. I'm loving Him, I'm loving you (really, I am; whoever you are out there), and I'm loving life. Join me; let's get blissed together.