“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”- Peter 5:10
So much “I am just not happy. I am trying to find my happiness. He doesn’t make me happy. I just want to be happy!” We are living in a culture that teaches us we are supposed to be elated all of the time. Happy about our bodies, happy about our careers, happy about or children’s grades, happy, happy, happy. If you are looking for what makes you happy, you cannot be whole.
The suffering Peter is referring to does not really mean for a little while. He does not mean life will be hard for like five minutes and then you will be blissfully happy for the rest of your lives. I believe the little while is your whole live long life. You will suffer throughout this journey but this life is only for a teeny tiny little while.
Last night I walked home from dinner at my sister’s. Betty was on her bike singing loudly. AAP drove home with HAP in his lap who had on a bright orange hat…backwards. Precious sight. I almost burst with happiness in that moment because my life is so full. A moment. A fleeting moment that comes and goes. I am not happy all the time but I have so many wonderful moments of happiness that the rest of life is pretty great too.
After you have suffered a little while…
We all suffer in our own ways. Life is hard. Life is challenging and sad and complicated and sometimes lonely. I heard an addict say recently, I was sober for 15 months and it was the most miserable 15 months of my life. But what she didn’t see on the other side was that it was the BEST 15 months of her family’s lives. They spent 15 months, for the first time in years, not worrying if she was dead or going to be homeless or if her heart was broken. Which brings me to this, joy, in my eyes, almost 1000000% of the time is about selflessness. It is about putting others happiness before your own and sometimes, just sometimes, you get a big return on that investment. What you give comes back around and that brings joy, lots and lots of joy. Perhaps that 15 months of sobriety was no fun for the girl but for her family it was the most relief they had felt in a very long time. It was the most connected her child had felt to her and so although she was sober and ‘miserable’, she was making such an enourmous difference in other people's lives.
We are not called to an easy life. We are called to a purposeful life. Life is not about being happy, yippety dee da day all of the time. It is about finding what makes you whole. Serving others. Helping friends. Your children. Your sister. Your brother. Giving back. Hearing someone laugh. Cooking a meal. Friday night football. Double strollers. Matching tees on cousin brothers. Hugs. Listening. Being compassionate. Being like Jesus. Jesus suffered for a little while and I doubt he spent every hour of every day happy. But he was whole. He was whole because he always put others first. He was whole because he sought God. He was whole because he spent his life serving and praying and healing. If you are searching for your own happiness, if you are constantly wondering WHY CAN’T I JUST BE HAPPY, if you are so focused on your own joy and glee, you have it wrong. Wholeness. Wholeness will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.
I love wine. I love red wine and white wine and even pink wine. I love to smell wine and taste wine and cook with wine. I have been to Napa and Sonoma and Rome and in wine clubs and I have drank enough wine to fill Lake Meredith perhaps. So after HAP was born I quit drinking (obviously before he was born too). I miss my fun care free self a lot. I was happy in my wine days. Travelling and laughing and letting loose and man I was a whole lot of fun. But I was not whole and I was selfish and I was not the absolute best version of myself for my family. Not drinking is boring….a lot…..and I miss it sometimes but I miss the false sense of wholeness it can bring ZERO. I was happy, and did I mention fun, but I was very incomplete.
I still have a very long way to go….I have also come a very long way. Over the past few years, I have moved closer to being restored, strengthened and established little by little. I have moved away from being happy all the time towards a heart that is whole. Fillin’ up the cracks. Lordy, do I have some cracks. A Biblical Definition of ‘Wholeness’ – The state of being perfectly well in body, soul (mind, will and emotions) and spirit. Complete sanctification and restoration. God’s original design for man before sin entered the world, and now attainable only when one’s body is in heaven after the second coming of Jesus. (A noun). I don’t believe God designed us to be doing cartwheels about life all the time. We were not put on this earth to always be HAP HAP HAPPPPPPPPY. It is so much more than that. As his children, we are so much more than that. Through our suffering, through HIS suffering we are warriors for God's kingdom. We are children of light, sons and daughters of victory and the best symbols of God's love.
But when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 1 Corinthians 13:10
If you are seeking what makes you happy, I encourage you to put a twist on that search and look for what makes your heart and soul whole. I encourage you to shift your focus towards the happiness of others. Help a neighbor, take back a mean word, pray with your spouse, take flowers to a friend, hold back the ugly comment, GIVE RATHER THAN RECEIVE. The only thing that will make our “little while” the best little while until we get to the rest of our while is surrendering to ourselves.
This morning my little nugget made blueberry pancakes all by herself and brought me a plate with a sweet pink rose from our yard. That. THAT brings more wholeness than all of the Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc in Lake Meredith.