We all dream of being happy. But what, exactly, is happiness?
Some years ago, I was drinking tea in a friend's kitchen when she said to me, "You know, when we bought this house, I thought my life was finally perfect. I have a great family, a good job, more possessions than I ever dreamed of having, this wonderful house…. So—I don’t understand—why am I still not happy?"
Most of us have said we’d be happy if we just had some more money, better health, a spouse, a child, a better job, more time… and the list goes on.
Even when we get whatever we thought would make us happy, we realize there’s just one more thing, and then one more…
- Why else would well-to-do people keep working 24/7 and never take time to enjoy what they have?
- Why do drop-dead gorgeous people go to any lengths to add to their beauty?
- Why do corporate workers seek promotion after promotion, never saying, “Good enough. I'll stay here where I’m comfortable.”
- And then there’s the compulsion to find the perfect match, and the marriage-go-round, with its constant lure of greener pastures and easy divorce.
The truth is, it’s extremely rare for people to say they’re content with what they have.
According to psychologist and author Dr. Larry Crabb, the underlying problem is that most of the things we expect to make us happy are transitory, while every person on earth was created with two deep, eternal needs.
- The need to be loved “as is.”
- The need to live lives that have meaning.
Even among the people who call themselves Christians and attend a church service every week, many don’t actually have that kind of relationship with God.
They don’t know the joy that comes from knowing God loves them “as is,” and the contentment that comes from realizing he has a plan for their lives.
I'm happy to say that my friend found these things. And even when, a few years after our conversation, her life turned upside down, she still felt the peace and contentment only God can give. I trust you’ve found it, too. Or, if not, that you soon will.
If the church is going to accomplish the purpose God had in mind back when he first created the world, it’s absolutely vital that each and every member knows first-hand what it means to be loved by God and to live a meaningful life.
N. J. Lindquist
This post was published first in my column, As Each Part Does Its Work, in the Maranatha News, which I wrote from March, 2007, until September, 2010.