“Happiness is pretty simple: someone to love, something to do, something to look forward to.” Rita Mae Brown
I had the part about “someone to love” all mixed up.
It took attending a church where I watched people practice loving and spending time with Jesus to recognize that I’m happiest when I accept my relationship and time with Him is the very thing that makes me happy.
I’m also happiest (and most like Jesus) when I’m doing what He’s called me to do, which is serve others by living my purpose.
When I searched “someone to love” on a site of free images I use for my blog, I landed on pages full of about a million romance photos. I wanted the fairytale too, but that’s not the foundation for our happiness. My relationship with Jesus is what sets me up well for relationships with the rest of my people.
And “the rest of my people” didn’t turn out to be who I thought they were.
Like my aunt who we lived with when I was growing up, I gave 99 percent of my love and consideration to my family of origin and to my husband and children. There wasn’t much left over for the body of Christ like in 1 Corinthians 12:27, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
When I went with my family to hear child expert John Rosemond speak, I didn’t understand the part when he said “community first.” I thought he must have confused community with family. However, one of my family members got it and explained. He said we give back to something bigger and beyond ourselves before we have anything to give to those closest to us.
His clarification explained why my aunt who we lived with annoyed me even though I loved her dearly. She talked mostly about the past and only spent her time and money on us. The older I got, the more I understood her ways because I took them on.
She refused repeated offers from other family and from friends who invited her to eat out, play cards, and travel. She refused invitations to attend church. She refused to do volunteer work because she was busy with us.
Even as a child, I inherently knew she would have been more generous and interesting and fun if she had made others important too; if she’d been a part of something bigger than herself and us; if she had a community she served.
It wasn’t until I heard the reason I needed a church family that I understood why I also needed to be there for them too. When sheep hang around the flock’s edge, they are easy prey for wolves.
The same is true for people. The ones of us who stand back from the crowd are the ones attacked and killed (emotionally and spiritually), and we’re not much help to others who are also being attacked and killed.
I stood back most of my life and stayed uninvolved from the church family – the one mentioned in the Bible that we’re called to be a part of. As a result, I was dying from my lack of being supported and supportive. Without community that John Rosemond mentioned, no matter how hard I tried to support my family, it was like trying to extract water from a dried up well.
I’m happiest now that I’m not stingy with my time, money, and love. I’m happiest when I believe I have plenty for Jesus, and for His people at church and in the community, and for His people in my home.
In This Together,
FYI: I’m blogging my book titled On The Other Side of Trying Hard: Healing, Happiness, and Holiness. Because the blog posts will eventually be an entire 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. Each blog post title includes the chapter title first. The phrase in parentheses is one subheading within the chapter. I’d love to hear your reflections, questions, and suggestions. I’m over-the-top grateful you’re here.
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Oh this really spoke to me, “we give back to something bigger and beyond ourselves before we have anything to give to those closest to us.”
I always think I’ll give to others but my family needs it first. Since moving away from my natural family and finding a home in a community where I’m loved and serve others, I’m finally able to give grace and forgiveness to those closest to me.
Thanks for writing this, Kim!
I love this, Jen, and the same thing’s happening with me.
I couldn’t understand why loving and serving my family didn’t come naturally and feel warm and fuzzy. Everything seemed harder than it should have been because I had my priorities confused. #Jesusfirst
We’re so fortunate to have a pastor who knows the Bible and teaches it clearly as well as a church family who love us anyway. lol 😬
I appreciate you and your comment. ❤️