This blog post/chapter begins Section Two about Happiness from my manuscript titled On The Other Side of Trying Hard: Healing, Happiness, and Holiness.
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
I wrote earlier in a blog post that I used to pray for my family’s happiness, and I still do. More importantly, though, I pray they love and live for Jesus. I know from decades of trying hard and missing out that unless they know Him, they’ll never know happiness.
With that in mind, I wondered if I should find another word for my title to alliterate with healing and holiness. I wondered if there was any place for relaxed ideas when talking about getting to other side of trying hard. I wondered if happiness was even worth wanting and writing about.
In his quote, Emerson offered an easy replacement (honor) when he said part of our purpose is not to be happy, but to be honorable. I debated happiness’ purpose and how it contributed to our purposes. I agreed with Emerson that usefulness, honor, and compassion are higher purposes toward our purpose.
Unless, of course, we tried so hard to be useful, honorable, and compassionate that we usurped others lives (not useful) and became haughty (not honorable) and controlling (not compassionate).
Without some lightheartedness, we lose our balance and our way.
It reminded me of Reverend Chuck Murphy holding up The Joyful Christian during one of his sermons. The book included 127 readings written by C.S. Lewis. I never read it, but the question posed in his sermon stuck with me, “Would anyone who knows you’re a Christian want what you have? Are you joyful?”
Joy is a fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:23 in the Bible, and isn’t necessarily interchangeable with happiness. But I especially liked this statement in an article “What’s the Difference Between Joy and Happiness?” from Compassion.com, “Joy is an inner feeling. Happiness is the outward expression.”
The serious business of living for God includes people seeing something they want in our lives.
In This Together,
FYI: I’m blogging my book titled On The Other Side of Trying Hard: Healing, Happiness, and Holiness. Because these blog posts are a manuscript instead of stand-alone stories, some posts may leave you hanging. I hope you’ll hang in here with us anyway ‘cause a happy ending is coming. My blog post title includes the chapter title first. The phrase in parentheses is the subheading. I’m over-the-top grateful to have you here. I’d love to hear your reflections, questions, and comments.