“I just want you to be happy.”
This is a common sentiment and whenever I hear it, I can often hear the heart behind it. Where I often hear it is from a parent to a child. Not a young child, either. At that stage where the son or the daughter is ready to take some significant steps on their own. As that parent/child dynamic changes and both begin to come to terms with diverging tastes and opinions, so there’s something in the parental approach that explains their reluctant giving up of control to allow the child to make those decisions.
It’s tough. The parent no longer makes the major decisions and some of the choices their child is making are ones that frustrate them. Their disagreement expressed can sometimes come across negatively and harm the relationship. The child can retreat or even come back defensively and aggressively. Yet the sincere sentiment of the parent is for what they perceive is best for the happiness of their child. They’ve had longer in living and they feel that experience and wisdom makes them the expert on this life that they brought into the world.
Should happiness be the goal? Should the measure of our lives prioritise that which makes us happy over other things? Have we lifted that to be the great goal of life? I mean I’m aware that one country in particular has an ethos of being about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What’s wrong with that?
What can help us out if we acknowledge Jesus as Lord is to consider whether God sees the pursuit of happiness as the goal of life.
At this point you’re looking for me to make my position on the subject clear. Perhaps there’s something I can say to give an indication on the matter. Or maybe there’s a reference I can give to help with these, right?
Not on this occasion.
On this occasion, I’m content to encourage you to ask the question and explore the answers for yourself.
What I will do, however, is share something of the context of why these questions matter. My parents are so precious to me. I can see the tears in my Mum’s eyes when I shared with her certain decisions I made that she didn’t agree with. I can still hear concerns from my Dad about those decisions as well It was particularly significant because my Dad never raised those kind of doubts and concerns about decisions I made. I knew it was serious. The sentime about just wanting me to be happy was something that came from my Mum. It did not come from my Dad.
Looking back on those episodes with my parents really got me asking the questions. A good friend of mine helped me out with how to negotiate the journey of asking those questions and the key advice he gave me was to really listen carefully to what God says for Himself. Listen to Him. Not people’s versions and perversions of what He says – they abound. Just to pray, hear Him speak in His word and converse with whatever wise and mature friends you can find – in that order.
What I’ve discovered in that journey so far is that the pursuit of liberty is not always compatible with the priority of happiness. It’s also worth digging deep to get definition on the terms as well.
All the best in that journeyfor you.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden