We’ve all heard the expression, “Happiness is a warm puppy”. But what is your definition? What makes you happy? What is it that lights up your eyes, lifts up your heart and makes your day sparkle? It might be the gurgling laugh of a baby or her uplifted arms waiting to be hugged. It might be the sight of a beautiful rose with just the right amount of dew drops reflecting the morning sunlight. Perhaps it’s an unexpected hug and kiss from your spouse hurrying out the door to work.
Perhaps… The list is endless for “perhaps” or “if”. But what well of happiness is touched by these things? Do you know someone who is always happy? Do you know someone who is dour and gloomy no matter what the occasion and can throw a wet blanket over any celebration? That laughing baby can bring delight to one heart while another may only see responsibility and “Oh, nuts! The baby’s awake already!” Or the rose that is beautiful may be over looked and only the weed growing beside it noticed.
So, if the same stimulus can bring opposite reactions, then the reasons must go deeper.
Before we see the rose or hear the baby or love our spouse our heart is prepared for its response. It is our expectations about life that determine our response to it. Sometimes it seems life has thrown us too many curve balls and pulled the rug out from under our dreams once too often. So we begin to expect the worst, and quit hoping to be surprised by the best.
But there are those with whom we come in contact that belie that explanation. We see them experience pain and grief and loss without losing their sense of joy. Oh, they grieve, as we all do, but they are ready to enjoy us and see daily blessings as the gifts they are. What is the difference?
The difference lies in the basic trust that God is working all things for good to those who belong to Him. If we know that ultimately the good will prevail and that God will use even our failures to enrich our lives, we can put our losses in His hands and turn again to the world and to one another. In that context we are free to see the good and the beautiful and enjoy them fully; but also to see that which needs our efforts to maintain or mend.
Happiness based on the world’s standards will last only as long as life goes according to our plans. Happiness based on the abiding joy of being a child of God will keep returning to fill our hearts and senses with the wonder of creation and the joy of fellowship.
Donna Swanson c.2009