Essays on Faith: Happiness is a journey

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Here we are — already into the first week of June and almost halfway through the year.

How did we get here so fast?

It seems like only yesterday we were taking down the Christmas decorations. I’m beginning to understand why some people leave them up all year.

My brain locks up when I think about the rapid passing of time. I never get used to it. I suppose, somewhere in the back of my mind, I’m thinking it’ll slow down one of these days.

But, of course it won’t.

Do you know why? Because the older we get, the faster it goes. Ask anyone over 50 and he or she will tell you that time goes so much faster now than it did when he or she was 30.

Perhaps it’s because many of us are living in the “I’ll be happy when” mode: “I’ll be happy when I turn 18 and can do as I please. I’ll be happy when I graduate from college, get a job and have my own money. I’ll be happy when I get married and have a family. I’ll be happy when I have enough money to buy my own house. I’ll be so happy when the children are grown and on their own. I’ll be happy when I can retire and take it easy.”

Trouble is, by the time all of these things come to pass, we’re getting older and often, our health is starting to fail in ways that have us spending more time in doctor’s offices than we’d expected. Or our circumstances have changed in other ways. Perhaps we have aging parents to look after or children who need financial help.

That’s when we discover that, while we were concentrating on making it to what we perceived as the perfect time to be happy, many years and many opportunities for happiness passed us by.

Thus, the expression: Happiness is not a destination; it’s a journey.

What is true happiness? How does one find it and hold onto it?

If you really want the answer to this question, just observe a child for a while. Children don’t even have to think about it. Their lives are made up of new and first experiences; they get up each morning excited about what will happen today. What’s more, most of them are enthusiastic about learning new things in school.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if adults were equally as excited about learning and experiencing new things? Having learned our ABCs and 123s a long time ago, the majority of us have become indifferent about the events life holds for us each day. We get up every morning and go through our daily routine without any real emotion — unless someone cuts us off in traffic, that is. Unlike children, we are fairly certain we won’t be learning anything new and exciting during our ordinary day, so we don’t expect it.

Perhaps that’s the key — learning to live with the expectation that something new and fascinating will happen each day. If only we could look at the world through childlike eyes and see things based on truth rather than appearances and remain open to life’s lessons as we gain a new level of understanding and awareness. Every day presents opportunities to learn and share new insights with others.

“Happiness is like a butterfly: The more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.” — Thoreau

Does God want us to be happy?

Indeed, He does! But that does not mean He desires health, wealth and good fortune for our life. Nor does it mean that He wants us to have a problem-free life. The world associates good circumstances with happiness. God, in contrast, wants us to find happiness in every circumstance of life. But God’s Word does not promise us happy circumstances. True happiness lies in being content in God’s plan for our life.

If you are not a child of God, living your life according to His will, whatever happiness you realize is “of the world,” and is temporary. You may have power, money and fame, but none of it will matter unless you have a relationship with God. Your significant other, just like you, will gradually grow older losing his/her physical beauty and faculties. Eventually, one of you will depart this world, leaving the other to carry on alone. Your children will grow up and leave you to pursue their own dreams of happiness, which is as it should be. Nothing stays the same.

The only thing that never changes is your relationship with God. This is where true happiness and contentment begin.

Enjoy life now — it has an expiration date.

Essays on Faith may be submitted to gazette@wvgazettemail.com.

Find more Essays on Faith at www.wvgazettemail.com/life/religion.

Funerals for Thursday, July 9, 2020

Ankrom, Vada - 1 p.m., Bartlett-Nichols Funeral Home, St. Albans.

Dillard, Helen - 11 a.m., Gatens-Harding Funeral Home, Poca.

Greenlee, Margaret - 10 a.m., Bellemead United Methodist Church.

Harper, Carl - 10 a.m., Matics Funeral Home, Clendenin.

Humphrey, Connie - Noon, Restlawn Memory Gardens, Victor.  

Justice, Thelma - 1 p.m., Evans Funeral Home, Chapmanville.

Lanham, Kathy - 1 p.m., Long & Fisher Funeral Home, Sissonville.

McDerment, Randall - 1 p.m., Leonard Johnson Funeral Home, Marmet.

Russell, Michael - 4 p.m., Morris Funeral Home, Cowen.

White, Thomas - 11 a.m., St. Anthony Catholic Church, Charleston.