The Pursuit of Happiness

I want to be real honest with you today and share something I’ve been struggling with. First of all, some background on the situation. We’ve been living in our parsonage home for 7 months now. We moved here after moving 6 times in 6 years. For someone like me who has always enjoyed home decor and design, the hardest part about moving so often was that we couldn’t really get settled in any one place. Sure, I decorated in each new apartment or house, but I didn’t want to invest in how I truly wanted it to look since we would just be moving again in a short while. Now that we are finally in the place we plan to call home with no other plans of moving, I have officially set my inner decorator free! With Marshal’s help we are really making this house everything we could imagine it to be. Before we moved in, our church family put a lot of love and work into it too with new carpets, floors, paint, light fixtures, and so much hard work! We absolutely love our home. 

I’ve made a couple trips to Hobby Lobby, Target & Kohl’s as we have been decorating and filling our house with the things we find pretty and meaningful. Marshal has built our bed frames, dining room table, my work desk, and shelves. We’ve done shiplap and painted accent walls. We’re hanging art and wood signs, and canvas prints of our family photos. We’ve got wax warmers & candles to fill the house with a wonderful scent. I have fake plants because I always manage to kill real ones. The list goes on. Long story short, we’ve used up our budget and filled our home with lots of stuff, and I truly love how it looks and I love how it feels to live here. It’s literally my dream come true. 

And that’s why I was wondering why it didn’t make me happy. 

I told Marshal one evening, we are SO blessed. I can’t even tell you how blessed we are. Healthy family and relationships, beautiful and safe home, secure jobs… sure – we have challenges like anyone else. But in the big picture we have absolutely nothing to complain about. So why do I have this feeling like I’m not allowed to be happy? Like I’m scared to be happy? I look around and think I should be the happiest person alive, right? On my checklist of hopes, I actually have it all!

I puzzled over this in my head for a couple weeks. In the mean time I continued with what is apparently my favorite hobby (although I’m in denial of it), online shopping. I find that amazon can be the answer to everything, if you let it. That sippy cup has a broken straw? They have replacements on amazon! I need to plug in our speaker, wax warmer, AND lamp into that outlet? They have adapters on amazon! That sweet lady at church is giving us a free hand me down keyboard? They have kids lesson books and key stickers on amazon! I find myself seeking solutions and everyday comforts on amazon ALL the time. Online shopping is so convenient for someone like me with little kids, in this Wisconsin winter, in a more rural community. I can’t just walk to the store or make a quick trip, it usually takes a lot more planning than that.

So I’m living my life, comfortable and content enough, and then Marshal preaches a sermon that slaps me over the head with an Edison bulb. He’s talking about what it means to be blessed, and he says the ones who are blessed are actually the ones who do not have much in this world.

“Blessed are the poor, the hungry, those who weep, and those who are hated, reviled, spurned because of their faith in Jesus and for living in His name (Matthew 5). That’s not how we usually use the word bless. You don’t go up to the homeless man and tell him how blessed he is. You don’t go to see a family member in the hospital and tell them that God has truly blessed them. It doesn’t sound very blessing-like to be suffering with an incurable disease, to be hated and mocked at school because you’re a Christian, to be struggling to make ends meet, hungering for relief and satisfaction.”

(Marshal’s sermon)

I’ve considered myself blessed – and I really am. God has blessed me in many earthly ways. We are comfortable and safe. When we are sick, we have cozy beds and resources to help us get better. When it’s -20 degrees outside we have a heated house with indoor crafts and activities for the kids. We have each other and we build our relationships on the foundation of Christ with prayer and devotion.

“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” – 1 Timothy 6:17

And somehow as we spent the past 7 months decorating and getting settled into our home, it was stealing my focus. I was enjoying it so much that I was starting to rely on it to keep me happy. I would tidy up a room, take a step back and just look at it with appreciation. It was my happy place. But once the newness started to wear off, it still pleased my eyes but it didn’t bring me pure joy. I started to feel empty. 

Has this ever happened to you? For you it might not be home decor, perhaps it is a different hobby. 

“As His children, we are blessed when in all circumstances, with little or much, with health or sickness, with love around us or hatred, we focus our gaze on the CROSS. We follow Jesus, we receive His care and we embrace our countercultural way of life – not seeking our comfort and security and livelihood in STUFF or relationships, but in Christ Alone.”

(Marshal’s sermon)

Hello Kolyssa, I thought this was obvious but apparently you got lost in the spiraling vortex of online shopping and home decor. There’s nothing wrong with those things, but expecting them to make you happy??? You’ll never experience pure, unending joy from a source like that. 

I think my jaw actually dropped during his sermon as I realized I had been trying to find happiness from material, earthly things. Guilty as charged. Then a weight was lifted from my heart and I felt excited. I know the secret to pure, unending joy and I don’t want to forget it again!

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.” – Ephesians 2:4-5

We are citizens of heaven, only on this troubled earth for a temporary time and looking forward to our true, perfect home of never-ending happiness! (Philippians 3:20)

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