Happy. (3)

I’ve realized there is just no point in being happy.

The moment we are “happy” is only a fleeting moment, and really, isn’t the fall that much harder after you’ve been up? Why bother to experience the highest of highs when in the end you are only going to crash in a mess on the hard pavement? I spoke to

I spoke to a friend recently via text and I asked how he was doing. He said, “Things are great, but I’m nervous. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop and for something to go wrong.”

I’ve never quite understood what dropping shoes had to do with happiness, but I get it. In the words of the much maligned and mocked alt-rock band Nickelback, “Something’s gotta go wrong because I’m feeling too damn good.”

So, even when we are happy we find ourselves waiting for the next horrible thing to happen that will steal our happiness. That’s awful.

All that in mind, I’ve found a new method for dealing with the dilemma of happiness – don’t be happy.

There are going to be moments of joy, great smiles, and laughter. But they aren’t going to persist. There are going to be people who come into your life who bring you great joy and you love their company, but they will leave one day. You may have great comfort in God one day, and have an awesome retreat experience, but what does it matter? Tomorrow things will probably be hard again.

So, don’t get happy. Recognize the moment for what it is, and let it go. Three words, folks,

Kill.

Your.

Happiness.

This is the key to avoiding the crash from happiness into sadness.

I’ve spent much of my life trying to maintain emotional neutrality. Why be happy when at any moment something will happen that makes me upset, angry, or sad? Is it even possible to maintain happiness? Isn’t it safer to just avoid it?

Think about it. We may never be happy but we also won’t be hurt or sad. We will stay even-keeled. Safe.

Stay

Safe.

There is this passage from the Bible that I can’t shake, though. Saint Paul is writing to the Thessalonians and he gives two directions –

Rejoice always.

Pray without ceasing.

Ok. Interesting choice of commands, Paul. These are some of the first recorded words not only of Paul, but of the new Christian community, around 40-50 AD.

Rejoice always.

Pray without ceasing.

These are strange commands because the early church is about to enter into a time of heavy persecution. The temple is about to be destroyed. The world is about to become a scary place. And these people who are newly converted and probably very excited are about to face a brave new world.

Rejoice always.

Pray without ceasing.

He tells them in all circumstances to give thanks, for better or for worse, for happiness or sadness, glory or impending doom. Why? Because this is the will of God for us in Christ Jesus.

We are called to rejoice not because we are happy now or things are going our way; we are called to rejoice because we have a great hope in our salvation. We believe that our lives don’t end at death, they don’t end at the bad things, they don’t end at the bad day or when someone close to us passes away a significant relationship ends.

Our lives don’t end with that last sin, with that one night, with our hurt and our pain. Our lives do not stop at the moment we turn from God, or turn to God. They don’t stop when we are broken, when we relapse into addiction, or lose our job.

Our lives go on forever, and God wants to make us holy. We hope in Christ Jesus that we are going to see him one day if we persist until the end. God is going to do great work in us, if we allow it. Paul goes on to say that we must turn from evil and do what is good in the same letter.

We must live the life God calls us to live.

And that is going to be hard, too.

Quit drugs, drinking, maybe your friends. Get out of that relationship. Face your addiction. Get help. Be broken. Confess. Get out of bad situations.

Those are not causes for rejoicing. Yet we are called to do it, anyway, because we will live forever.

And we who may have once died for eternity, now can live. And something interesting happens – we find true joy. We find happiness. We let go of all the things that kept us waiting for the “other shoe to drop” and we live.

Rejoice always.

Pray without ceasing.

Pray because its going to be hard, but we pray to endure until the end. We pray that God will fortify us in all circumstances, because now we have access to the Father through Jesus. So in all circumstances we give thanks, because in all circumstances we have the opportunity to seek God’s grace, God’s very life, to move us beyond those struggles.

We give thanks, because each trial is an opportunity to place our hearts in a God who would not will that we be given up to death, but would see him face to face. So in every moment, of everyday, we pray for grace. We pray for our endurance. We pray for one another. We pray in thanks, we pray in petition, we pray in intercession.

Because life isn’t easy. And yes, we will have moments that are not happy. And as Christians people are going to think we are ridiculous that we rejoice always, and want to know why. Our rejoicing and joy comes not from earthly things, not from glory, not from the high, not from things that do pass away. Because they do. And we are up and down. We rejoice because of the great work that God is doing in us through Christ Jesus.

Imagine that.

The great work God is doing in you, right now, regardless of where you are at, how you have fallen, he is calling. Not just calling but calling us to great things. And through Jesus Christ we now have salvation. We now have sacraments as visible signs of God’s grace in our world.

We have the mass as a way to celebrate the one, eternal sacrifice given for us.

And in spite of ourselves, there is grace. Even in the greatest times, even in the hardest times.

Rejoice always.

Pray without ceasing.

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