At any age, dating was an adventure in my circle of girlfriends. There were tall guys, short guys, funny guys, smart guys, the athlete, the nerd, the wealthy business guy, the down to earth guy — basically, an array of “fish” in the sea. Some guys were casual flirtations, some were casual flings, and then there were serious ones in between. Regardless of who we dated, we somehow managed to place a label on them. If for whatever reason, we were no longer interested, we would say, “Oh, I wasn’t feeling him, “ or “I just didn’t have a connection with him, “ or “He loves his dog too much.”
Sometimes, a girlfriend would ask, “Patty, does he make you happy?” or they may respond “Patty, just do what makes you happy.”
There is a problem with this statement.
In this ideal world, happiness is wonderful. It is a good feeling to have. And THAT is a problem. Happiness is a temporary feeling. It is not long-term. I realize there is much ongoing science behind the study of happiness and I am not here to dispute the science or agree with it. I want to let you know what happens when I decide to pursue my own happiness.
So what happens when I dated a guy that did not meet my happiness expectations? I found myself wandering the closest shopping mall with a handful of shoes to make me happy. Once in a while, I would call one of my past flings to “hang out” because male companionship would make me happy. Or maybe I would go have a drink with my girlfriends, or maybe 5 drinks. Maybe I would book myself a trip to take my mind away from my misery. That would make me happy. Renting a movie, binging on a pint of ice cream — that made me happy too.
This pattern of searching for “true” happiness — whether that be men, or food, or material possessions…whatever that may be, was self-limiting. After fulfilling temporary spurts of happiness, I come back to find myself alone, with the same cycle of problems I had before — not happy.
My aha moment of satisfying this need for happiness came when I knew Jesus. He never said we would not endure trials. He never promised happiness 100% of our lives. What he does promise is He will take care of you:
“…Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:14 (ESV)
My God provides completion. My faith in God produces humility, peace, joy, and satisfaction. When I look to Him, he tells me my next step. He determines my destiny. My only responsibility is to look up. In the pit of my soul, there is wholeness and gratification I receive by faith, and this means following Him.
“Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life…” John 14:6 (NLT)
Jesus is LIFE. My key to happiness: give up my efforts in trying to achieve happiness. I receive an internal joy I can only receive through Jesus Christ. Through difficulties, I am joyful. Through pain, I remain joyful. You really can’t beat that. In suffering, Job even states:
“He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.” 8:21 (NIV)
I pray through Jesus, He will bless you with an internal joy that far outweighs happiness. I pray for you to rejoice in Him through all your circumstances.