We hadn’t seen the girl for a long time. We knew her like we know our postman. Barely. But enough to smile and say Hi. I didn’t even know her name.
She referred to her husband in the past tense in the course of our conversation. Which made us wonder. Was everything okay?
Turns out everything wasn’t okay.
Unbeknownst to me, my small question had just opened the door for a very interesting conversation.
She shared about how she and her husband had never really felt anything for each other. They had just dated as kids and after you date you get married. She realized that they had really only been just friends more than anything else and she decided after a few years that this wasn’t the way she wanted to live the rest of her life. There was no enmity, no arguing–but there wasn’t any love, either.
I got the distinct impression that this was more about her not feeling love than him not feeling love. She went on to share that her choice had left him broken-hearted and devastated. She truly felt bad for him, but not that bad. The separation had recently become final with that ugly word divorce.
It all made complete sense. If you have the world view that your happiness is your first priority then it made complete and absolute sense. I don’t fault her. She is just living out what all of us have been taught for at least the last 30–if not 40– years: Our personal happiness is the most important thing in the world. We cannot be the human being we were always meant to be (although with most of the world believing in evolution, what does that even mean, anyway? What exactly were we meant to be if we are just a bunch of cells thrown together??) But I digress. As I was saying–we are taught that we cannot possibly be all that we were meant to be if we aren’t happy. Many marriages, children, parents, friendships, and other relationships have been sacrificed on the altar of personal happiness.
But there is an intrinsic problem with this world view–we are searching for something that can’t be found, even if we have more money, a better body, or the perfect marriage. Happiness cannot be found in perfect circumstances. Even when we think we have found it for a year or two, it is so elusive, that as soon as we think we have grabbed a hold of it permanently, it disappears again and we are left empty-handed or frustrated, continuing our search elsewhere.
No, true happiness isn’t to be found in changing our circumstances, but instead it is found in fixing our eyes on Jesus and submitting ourselves to God’s plan for our lives. True happiness is found in obedience to God’s Word. (Psalm 37:4, Proverbs 16:20, Proverbs 28:14, and almost all of Psalm 119)
The time wasn’t right, but I so wanted to share with her that God can fill her heart with love — deep and abiding love– for her husband. I wanted to tell her that Jesus isn’t just a name or some historical figure that people talk about but that He’s real and is making a real difference in my life and many other lives of true believers. That He has radically saved and changed me. And my husband. And our kids. I mostly wanted to tell her that He can radically save and change her.
But after she had told us about what had been going on in her life, we were out of time and we had to head different directions. And so I had to walk away from that conversation rather dissatisfied at the outcome. Thinking I could have done better. Said something wiser. But, alas, the opportunity was over.
But we left realizing that the world view that most of us have taken to heart is an outright lie from the pit of hell. And, lest we Christians become a little “uppity” here at this point, think for just a moment about how important your happiness is in your own life. Oh, we may not walk away from a marriage or do anything so drastic, but this quest for personal happiness plays itself out in millions of small ways every day, causing arguments, strife, and heartache. You see, whether we are Christians or not, when we fall for this lie– when we make our own happiness our most important priority– we not only end up bringing disappointment and turmoil to our own lives, but to many lives around us, as well.
Let’s find our happiness and joy in Jesus, delighting in and obeying His Word and submitting to His will for our lives. **Only then are we be able to say that we are truly happy.
** At least until the next time we find ourselves focusing on ourselves yet again–it’s such a cycle. Permanent and everlasting happiness will come in heaven and not before. Another thing to remember.