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Happy vs. Holy

I work with many clients in individual, couples and family counseling who are experiencing various struggles: depression, anxiety, grief, difficult relationships. I hear their desire to just be happy, to escape the struggle. Our culture puts a lot of value and focus on being happy. Advertising caters to that idea as does technology; we should have what we want and be happy. What if, as believers in Christ, we followed His example and chose holiness rather than happiness? What if happiness wasn't our main goal of the day and we instead chose to heartily pursue His holiness in our hearts? What would life look like? Might we embrace our struggles and find how they make us more like Him? Might we experience increased and lasting joy rather than momentary, fleeting happiness? In various other veins I have addressed this topic before in an article here and in blog posts here, here, here and here. A client shared with me this article recently and it captures this point so well. Take a moment to read; it's not too long! 

Chasing Happiness

I hear so much in daily life (TV, movies, commercials, magazines, blogs, radio, etc) about "being happy". "I just want him/her to be happy." "If I just had (insert object, relationship, career), then I'd be happy." Chasing happiness has become something so central to our American society. I hear it all the time in my counseling office from various clients; teens, couples, families, men, women...they all claim if they could just figure this or that out, have this or that, or get rid of this or that, then they'd be happy. "Really?", I want to say. Really do you think you'd truly be happy then? Do you really think that getting him/her/it will make you happy? Of course, I tend to say those things with a bit more therapeutic tact than that. But my message is the same: do you think that getting what you want will make you happy? If happiness is your goal, will you ever truly find it and be able to maintain that state of happiness? I think not. Getting that relationship, career, object, or getting rid of either of those will not make someone happy. The way I see it, the problem is in the goal. If the goal is happiness found in the hands of other people or things, it will never last. People will disappoint us, there will always be some new object out there we just have to have, jobs are lost and interests shift. When happiness is our driving motivator, we'll always get let down. We'll always be chasing one thing or another or one person or another. As a Christian, happiness is not my goal. My goal is to know and love the Lord, to know and love others. If anything else is my goal, I'll be unfulfilled. If being happy is my goal then I'll be let down constantly. As believers in Jesus, we weren't promised happiness nor were we told that happiness should be what we incessantly strive after. We were actually told the opposite...Jesus said, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) Wewill have trouble, things won't go our way, we will be let down, disappointed, suffer, hurt, etc. Those disappointments, hurts, sufferings can lead us to intimacy with Jesus and closeness with others. And in those things, there is great joy. Joy is deeper and much more lasting than happiness. Happiness tends to be based on situations and is fleeting. Joy is something that cannot be taken away by loss or change in situation. If you find yourself chasing happiness and ending up sad and disappointed more often than not, I'd encourage you to reassess your goal. Chasing happiness doesn't lead down any lasting path. Counseling can help you do that if you desire!