Friday, April 20, 2012

Love is Happy

Happiness. This seems to be the issue continuously popping up in my life lately. It was the topic of discussion at our college youth ministry last night and even popped up on one of my favorite shows, Ellen, this afternoon. What makes us happy? Should we be happy? Is that the purpose of life? How do we become happy? At the college age discussion last night we focused primarily on relationships and their correlation to happiness. Not just our relationships with friends and the opposite gender, but more holistically, our relationship with God. Does God want us to be happy or should we be only set on glorifying his Name, and is there even any difference between those two somewhat seemingly contradictory ends? How can we be selflessly serving a God at the same time pursuing what seems to be a selfish need of happiness and joy? I'll come back to this, but first I want to breach into what Ellen has to do with this whole discussion (besides being awesome).

Today on Ellen, she interviewed, Tom Shadyac, the visionary behind a documentary entitled, "Happy". The documentary is set from a non-Christian viewpoint, and yet is still quite amazing with the points they raised. She highlighted the point that it was free to rent on ITunes for today (i think). If you get a chance, I highly recommend it. They look at various answers to what causes happiness and document different areas around the globe that have completely opposite happiness standards. The conclusion they drew from the different countries, I felt, was a very Biblical answer. The common ideas surrounding the subject were immediately ruled out. It is not money or appearance or popularity status. According to their studies, and many other studies I've read, those three wants tend to lead to no happiness growth and can even lower your overall happiness with life. After going from Okinawa to Denmark to Namibia to Bhutan to India, they began to pull what they believed caused happiness in every place. You ready for this? Loving-kindness, compassion, friendships of trust and caring respect, being outdoors and experiencing nature, actively pursuing the needs of others, and being able to spend time doing what makes you happy. At the end, of the speakers says one of my favorite quotes, "The secret is being authentically you." Interesting conclusion right? How does being involved with what other people need make me happy? Seems almost culturally counter-intuitive. Through the entire documentary, I could not stop thinking about one thing.

Galatians 5:22-23 - "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Against such there is no law."

So many of those fruits were highlighted in that video. Loving others, being in nature at complete peace, walking beside someone (maybe even yourself) that is going through hard traumatic times, being kind and good and gentle to others, having faithful relationships. I am not really sure how self control fits in too much so i wont try to stretch it - although working so hard to get money and status that you die, as they showed in cities of Japan, could correlate to that. And although the documentary never brings much Christianity into the video (only briefly touching on spirituality), I find that a highly encouraging Christian message.

1 Corinthians 13-4-8a - "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; Does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things; Love never fails."

I love this. So much of happiness and joy is wrapped into love. And study after study proves that the more we are intertwined by love and selflessness and peace, the happier we tend to be. Soooooooo, back to the discussion with the college peeps. The main point of the study was relationships and marriage and where happiness fits into that. Some ground level characteristics in relationships that make us happy were trust, co-operation, sacrifice, and unconditional love. And we all agreed those are just mini snapshots of the characteristics we love about our relationship with our Lord and Savior. Praising a God who selflessly sent His son to die for our sins and who is continually with us and loves us puts everything in perspective. And as we aim to be more like Him, praising His name, that is where happiness and joy are fulfilled. Our God loves that we love him and Glory him and He pours so many blessings for those whose aim is to spread and witness the message of His love. And though the blessings may not seem as such in the moment, His joy is seen through it all. He loves to provide us joy and happiness.

God has created you to be uniquely, exactly, who you are, with your hopes and dreams and passions and interests and characteristics. Don't let society or money rob you of those passions. Wholeheartedly lift those things that make you, YOU, and use them to serve and love others, and to connect with God. Don't ever be afraid to be you, because God wasn't afraid to make you. He made you to have joy and to experience joy in Him.

The secret is being authentically YOU.

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