The United States Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The Bible talks about being happy—it’s a good thing to be happy, and while it is not “joy”, to little boys and girl, being happy is the goal of life; later that emotion can be used as a spiritual tool for teaching the greater virtue of joy. My children want nothing more than to be happy! They find happiness, most often, at McDonalds, with bottle of Cheerwine, with a UPS package and with most of the things Julie Andrews sings about in the “Sound of Music” when it comes to My Favorite Things.
While I am not sure that I can make someone happy (it’s a choice they make) I am certain that uniquely adept and qualified, it appears, to make some people very unhappy. What a pity and how dangerous to have this “special gift”. Life is too short to be the source of unhappiness, but I have seen myself, time and again, making those that I love and those estranged from me unhappy.
Recently my ten year old came home from school and asked me why I was smiling. I told him that I was happy because he was home and he smiled back and said, “but you don’t usually smile when I come home. It makes me happy on the inside when you smile.” I, of course, was ashamed that I did not smile more often, and put myself on notice—the boys notice when I am not wearing a “happy face”.
The next week the three boys each received a bunny rabbit as a gift and the eldest son asked me several times why I was not happy for them. Actually it was not that I was unhappy for them, but I kept focusing on my new job of taking care of three more pets when the boys grew tired of those rabbits (I have named them “breakfast, lunch and supper”). But it’s true! I don’t smile enough and don’t show my happiness enough. I’ve gone through some serious self-loathing about this. I get so caught up in my adult “things” that I forget to be a child in God’s Kingdom; instead of wearing a smile that reveals a joy-filled heart, I wear a scowl on my face sometimes. God have mercy on my unhappy face!—-I have no excuse and I hurt the cause of Jesus Christ because I take my life and my work too serious.
My children are dependent upon me they are for their sustained “happiness” and they become despondent and confused when I don’t share their happiness in something that legitimately is “happy”. Shame on me and any other parent that’s not living and showing the abundant life that gives us all the “happenings” we need to be happy!
Many years ago, while I served as the youth pastor in a small church in Florida, a retired WWII Marine veteran approached a lady in one of the church pews right before the service. She was known to be a bit dramatic, rarely smiled and always seemed to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders—she was always serious and “concerned”. My friend, Roy, was a big, tough, Marine. But he had been hit in the head by a heavy crane many years earlier and was not always “careful” with his words. But for whatever reason he was always upbeat, happy to meet people, glad to be alive, whistling a tune or cracking a joke. On this particular Sunday, as he walked by my lady friend, who was once again sitting very still, eyes closed, quiet and wearing an unhappy face, he inexplicably blurted out, “ (Her name) are you concentrating or constipating?”. She was furious and explained that she was praying to God, and so forth, and to mind his own business! But after that encounter I don’t recall ever seeing her “concentrating” like that again in church.
Maybe I need to get hit in the head with crane every now and then…