Saturday, March 25, 2017

Holiness or Happiness?

As a young believer struggling with forming right thinking from 21 years of life apart from Christ, I had an encounter with my mentor at the time, where she said to me "God is more concerned with your holiness than your happiness.  If you are living a holy life, you will be happy." It was a shocking revelation to me, turning my thoughts and world upside-down.  I had been raised to believe that problems were things to quickly dispose of or run away from in order to get to that elusive goal of "happiness".  It never lasted long before the next problem came along and the cycle continued, until that day my mentor spoke those words of wisdom into my spirit.  It forever changed how I viewed problems in life; they were no longer things to run away from so I could reach some subjective idea of happiness.

Difficulties were now opportunities to confront my own heart and submit myself to God for examination, so I could grow more into the likeness of my Savior.

Fast forward almost 30 years and I am listening to my daughter speak to me about a problem she was having, when it dawned on me that this was for her holiness, and I shouldn't be quick to resolve the problem for her to grant her temporary happiness.  That's a tough one though.  As parents, we naturally want to see our children be happy.  Happiness = the absence of anything that causes them pain or distress or makes them sorrowful (or should I say the parent!).  However, how will our kids ever develop true character and virtue; character that goes deep and weathers the storms of life, if we make sure every day is sunshine?  Longfellow said "into each life some rain must fall."  He was right, but boy do I want to be quick with the umbrella, galoshes, and rain coat when I see the first raindrop fall!

Not this...
  1. Don't teach them to bail on people or commitments when things get a little messy.  Teach them to work through it.  
  2. Don't teach them it's always someone else's fault by pointing out all the flaws in that person or thing they are having a problem with.  It's rarely a one sided deal.
  3. Don't focus on making them "happy" all the time.  Life shouldn't resemble Disneyland. 
But this....
  1. Confront gently what you see in your child's heart or the true intention behind their complaint or struggle.  Making your child aware of their real struggle is a first step to dealing with it and allowing God to work in their heart.  
  2.  Consistency in praying with your child for their own heart issues, and for those involved, if it involves another person.  Don't just pray for the other person as if there is no issue in your own child's heart prompting their trouble, it's rarely a one-sided problem.  
  3. Coach them on right responses to the situation moving forward and how to rightly view their dilemma.  Help them to find grace filled responses to their struggle and see the bigger picture of how God is working in their own heart and life, as well as the other person's, through this irritation.
So next time you're tempted to pull out the umbrella, galoshes, and rain coat when you see the first sight of rain in your child's life, instead, remember that without the rain we would have no fruit or flowers -nothing to sustain and make life more beautiful.  We need the rain as much as we need the sunshine.  Their holiness is truly more important than their happiness!

The Rainy Day

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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