Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Everything We Do, We Do To Be Happy

Last night I was in a foul mood.

Maybe you don't get like this but I was in a mood where nothing seemed to go my way. My wife was at a jewelry party (whatever that is) so I was feeling lonely, my youngest kid wailed if I didn't hold her and squirmed if I did, and I was getting more frustrated and sulky by the minute. I had decided that after the girls went to bed I'd quickly clean up the kitchen and then go to bed myself; after all, tomorrow had to be a better day so I wanted to get there as soon as possible.

As you can see, it was a first-class pity party with all the trimmings.

Some words that I've heard several times, and I'd even said during a recent talk, came to my mind while loading the dishwasher: “everything I do, I do because I think it will make me happy”.

“I'm not very happy, today,” I thought, “obviously I'm not feeling down because I think it will make me happy.”

The more I thought about it, the more I realized I was wrong. I realized that my sulky mood brought an odd (and unhealthy) form of pleasure. The mood instinctively became an excuse for selfishness (I can't be patient or thoughtful today; I'm in a bad mood) and made me feel entitled to special treatment (you should feel sorry for me) and I got to play the victim (you're making me have a bad day). When put all together, my foul mood was a certainly a path that I thought (unconsciously) would make me happy.

This realization actually snapped me out of the funk I was in because I saw how stupid I was being. I was thirsting for happiness but was going to the desert to find water. Not a good idea, huh?

My goal now is to reflect on the other parts of my life where I do this. What other things do I do because I think they'll make me happy but—like self pity—have no potential for brining real happiness? Once identified I can only pray for the grace to cut them out of my life.

1 comment:

D.G. Hansen said...

Dan,

Great post--and timely, indeed. I'm sitting around feeling sorry for myself right now--and you're right, there's a bizarre, unhealthy pleasure to be derived from it.

I'm Protestant and have been all my life. Just recently I've started digging into Catholic Theology. I've been excited as more and more of the Bible seemed to open up before me. Oh, my friends and family think I'm nuts, but my wife and I (and our 5 kids) keep on plugging and who knows where God will lead us.

Anyway, the point is, I've been digging into this stuff and I hit a road block that's pretty tough for me: Mary's children. Now, I understand that if this is proven, then really, the whole infallibility thing falls.

At times, I've been convinced of her perpetual virginity, but just last night and this morning, I stumbled into very early (1st and 2nd Century) teachings from the Church fathers that Jesus' brothers "according to the flesh" were doing this or that.

Well, if the earliest Christians thought Jesus had brothers, what does that do to the idea? I know later Fathers (4th and 5th century) adopted the idea of the perpetual virginity . . . but if the earliest ones didn't, where does that leave me? Development of Doctrine?

Anyway, I'm not trying to argue at all--I'm trying to explain my funk. It hit me like a load of bricks and I've been moping around ever since wondering why my life's so bad.

It's pathetic and I appreciated your post. I'll focus on the things that are good and I'll wait on the Lord for the rest. Keep up the good work! I've added myself as a facebook fan and will spread your site around to the folks I've been talking to!

(And if you have any help for me and my 1st-and-2nd-century-Christians-not-acknowledging-the-perpetual-virginity thing . . .well, feel free to dispense it!)