08 July 2009

Memo to self (re-re-re-re-issued)

Everyone, including and especially me, is happier when I am happy—even if I’m only pretending to be happy. Hey, it’s contagious, and I am not immune.

We’re all clear on Dad’s head honchoship, but life also proves the truth of that eloquent old adage: If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. (Confirmed here, and stated in the positive here.)

This isn't denial, folks;
it's the face of Christian resignation...

Is it OK to be sad sometimes? You betcha. But it is not OK to wallow, to daily don grouchiness, or to snarf ten chocolate cupcakes in a fit of self-pity.* I’ve searched for happiness in the bottom of a pan of turtle brownies often enough to know that it’s just not there.

The Apostle didn’t leave any loopholes. Besides, so numerous are the joys that I, all undeserving, have been granted, that I’m frankly embarrassed to think that there are days when thundershowers dominate the Doppler.

*Notice that nothing has been said about snarfing five or fewer chocolate cupcakes.


Rebekah said...

Oof, I know. My ability to whine and crab about the sweetest deal ever is mind-blowing. :P

lisa said...

Proverbs 21:19
"Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife"

Greeeattt...the Bible always gives my husband ammunition ;) I guess this goes on the fridge too.

My grandma passed on another watertight bible verse to me that I lean on frequently.

1 Thessalonians 5:18
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

A few months after her son was killed she went to her Pastor angry at God. He answered her (lovingly) with 1 Thes.
Thanks be to God for Pastors like that. She told me the story, half-laughing, almost-crying. But so grateful.

That said - I can see how it would be easier for my daughter to believe me when I'm not snarling, "Mommy loves you." ;)

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

I agree that one should not wallow in sorrow, nor give in to despair; just as one should not wallow in any sort of sin.

I'm not convinced, however, that "happiness" isn't another false god and idolatry. Not that people shouldn't be happy; but, "happiness" should not be the source and substance of one's joy and peace and satisfaction and rest, no more than brownies or bottles-in-little-brown-bags.

The same Apostle who admonishes us to "rejoice in the Lord always," boasted in nought but that Lord's Cross, and rejoiced in his own suffering for the sake of that Lord who gave Himself for us. There is a difference in that joy, set before us in the Cross, and the sort of "happiness" that seems to be so all-important to the world.

Or, at least that is how it has often seemed to me. I get rather weary of having guilt laid on top of my sadness, if I'm not registering high enough on someone else's "happiness" scale.

True rejoicing, which is by faith in Christ, in the peace of His reconciliation of the world to God the Father, is granted to us and worked in us, not by admonitions of the Law, but by the forgiveness of sins. The genuine preaching of repentance, which calls us away from wallowing in our sin, does so for the forgiveness of those sins.

Which is more than just a reminder that, actually, God is much nicer to us than we deserve, and we really don't have anything to feel badly about. True enough, but I'm not able to think rightly about the Lord, nor to believe Him, except that I am raised up by the Gospel with the One who has borne my griefs and carried my sorrows.

Wallowing in sadness, or any other sin, is wrong; it adds sin upon sin and makes matters worse. Giving oneself over to despair is likewise sinful and deadly. But wallowing in "happiness," if it is not the rejoicing of faith in the Cross of Christ, is also sinful. There are plenty of "happy" pagans, and there are plenty of Christians who simply do not wear their joy in the Gospel on their sleeves in the same way that others do.

Your sins are all forgiven by One whose "happiness" with you does not depend upon your happiness.

Reb. Mary said...

Pastor Stuckwisch,

Thank you much for your words of wisdom! "Happiness" is easily an idol, to be sure; perhaps I should have been more clear on the distinction between happiness and joy (and on the half-irony of my caption). The main thrust of my post is my own sorry attitude problem; the fact that it's so much easier some days to scowl and snap than to smile. :P Thankfully, I don't have to go back and clarify, as you have already done it so well. :)

By all means, the last thing that someone suffering through a Sadness needs is a burden of guilt laid by well-meaning Christian friends.

Joy is so much more profound and mysterious; far less understood. (Being American is also a strike
against us in understanding joy, what with the also-misunderstood pursuit of happiness being such an inalienable right and all.)

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Thanks for your further comments, Reb. Mary. And for your original post, as well. The points you make are helpful and well-taken.

lisa said...

I find myself clinging to Christ's hem daily around here. Many times at 4pm I find that I have a dull headache at the base of my skull and I've been clenching my jaw without realizing it. I'm tense and frazzled. But I would generally refer to myself as happy. My happiness seems to be only partly emotions. It's more like my baseline state of existence bc I don't have to prod myself on with adages like "slow and steady wins the race" on hard days bc the race has already been won. and for that I'm happily relieved.
I may not often feel elated and I sometimes trek through pools of sadness, but generally, I feel pretty good and I am not in despair (thank goodness, bc despair is SO scary).

Maybe I've set the bar low for my definition of happiness :)) <--(PS: that is my double-chinned grandma emoticon, it makes me happy ;) Go figure.

I find myself having to convince others in my extended family circle of my "happiness" all the time though. I'm one of those "not wearing the joy of the Gospel on my sleeve" above-referenced. So...I sit there and dread the conversation that WILL come when/if you have to tell your family you're pregnant again...so soon...etc etc etc - insert worn out concerned-worldly response here. And often incoming beloved house guests really just mean (for me) putting on the HAPPY war paint to prove i can do this. I'm happy. See? I'm smiling. Look, I made brownies.

Why do I waste the time? I don't know. I guess I just view it as a teaspoon of prevention for all those incoming, dreaded comments about how haggard I looked last time they saw me with just two kids. ("What, why would you want another one???")

Just a rant. I'm happy. You just can't tell bc it's a small, still happiness. The kind that makes you unclench your jaw and go hug your baby who just dropped her juice on the floor, again. Bc, honestly, I drop bigger stuff in my life all the time and i'm still loved.

I'm not trying to comment on folks grieving. That's a different place to be in emotionally. Just the general everyday stuff.

Rebekah said...

Lisa, I know exactly what you mean. "I'm happy, alright? Lay off." :P It's the baseline whether or not it looks like it, and those days when it really doesn't feel like it you just have to slug on through.