I recently posted this on my facebook:
I was soon after presented with this question:
Is all that I can present to my child for the future is a life of obedience, contentment and sacrifice? Certainly if God is big enough to perform miracles, there has to be some room for a notion of happiness.
Fortunately, my friend who asked this didn't just ask me. There was a wealth of good comments and thoughts to ponder. It took me a while to respond as I had to really think about why the article had struck me and what I got out of it. Here is my response. Feel free to comment if you have any thoughts to add.
The first thing I think we need to look at is happiness. I think she did a good job of describing happiness as something that is fleeting. It is a feeling of the moment. It is a reaction to our surroundings. So, maybe I have a really good mocha or hot chocolate or something for breakfast and it makes me feel good all over. That is a moment of happiness. We can enjoy it. We can file it away in our thankful box and we can move on with our day. The problem is the feeling wears off. We can remember it and be content, but what often happens if happiness is our goal, we want another one. We need another one or we need something else that makes us happy. Happiness as a goal has us always searching for that which makes us happy. Those girls who got the boob jobs for their graduation may have been happy for a time, but it wouldn't be long before they realized that someone else got a better boob job or her lips were more perfect or her hair color was better or ..... So, happiness as a goal can never be acheived. A moment of happiness yes, but a lifetime of happiness, no.
So, I think that this article really struck me, because that is some of what I have had to work through. I had made happiness my goal. Being loved by husband would be my happiness, or being loved by our children or being the best employee or whatever it might be. But it fails us. There are days my husband or my children do not love me. There are days that I am not the best employee or I see my family being sacrificed because I am trying to attain it and I am not happy. This is real life. We are not always happy. I do not want my children to think that is what they need in life or they will always be disapointed. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy their happiness. I love doing things for my children that make them happy. I love their laughs and smiles. And I do want them to remember their childhood as a very happy time in their life. But you know what - those times that I work really hard to make them happy usually blow up in my face. Because they are human. They want more. We all do it.
So, do I make my life's goal to make my children happy. No way. If I do, they will never be content. They will always want more. They will NEED more. Happiness is a feeling that is fleeting. We will always need something else to get that feeling when one wears off.
I even believe that God desires our happiness. He often does something special for us. I have had Him help me get just the perfect hair cut, put heart shapes in my dishwasher, meet some small desire that I have. He loves to do those things for us. But, He can also see the bigger picture. He knows that those things will never fulfill us. We will always NEED more.
I like what she says about "chasing something that has so little to do with your own abilities. You'll just be constantly frustrated." If being beautiful is my happiness, then when I go out for my morning run and I see someone more beautiful then me, then I am not happy. If being the best runner is my happiness, then when I get in a car wreck and my legs won't run anymore, then I am not happy. If being the best at my job is my happiness, then when I am tired from working all the time and they still want more from me and my family is falling apart, I am not happy. If accomplishing some big thing is my happiness and it doesn't look like that will ever be, I am not happy.
Learn to be content in all things. That is a very good goal. That is a goal that makes sense to me. That is when I can find JOY, not just a fleeting feeling of happiness. Because, let's be honest, does life always go the way we would like it to? Do we always get what we want? Are we always happy? Do we want our children to think this is something they can attain so that they can feel disapointed and frustrated later in their life? Do we desire to make our life's goal something that will never happen?
I don't think this Mama in this article is really desiring her children to be unhappy, but is desiring that they find JOY. Even at the end of the article she says, "but I know my babies...I know your hearts," and she knows they won't resent her. I think she even thinks they might have found some happiness, but she never made that her goal.