His Garden of Grace
The Stuff of Happiness
To continue from the last post, which I know, I know- it was supposed to be the day after that, but hey, better late than never, right?
Seriously, though I am sorry. I want to do better, but I just get busy with my stuff, and then the day goes by, and another day, and here it is June 11 and I haven't posted in days and I feel like a terrible person.....not really, ok, maybe just a little. I really am sorry. I am trying to be consistant. But life is so daily and I am so tired!!
So here I go. Happiness. Why I am not ever consistantly happy. And what is better. Remember?If not, go read this post first: Happiness Revisited Then come back. I will be here when you get back.
My problem is Stuff. I like stuff. And I like to do so many things, that I have A. Lot. Of. Stuff. And when I get a shiny, new toy (doesn’t really matter how much it costs- in fact if it is a bargain, it is even better!) I am happy. For a little while. But then I see another newer, better toy and the old one isn’t as fulfilling anymore, and I justify why I need it, and how it is going to be so much fun and, I cave. Sometimes I don't even realize I am caving. I just see it and buy it.
But then, The Stuff that I love so much becomes a millstone around my neck. I have so much that I have to “build bigger barns” to contain it all. Ok, not literally. But I have to organize my stuff. I have to clean my stuff and clean it up when I drag it out. And I have to decide which stuff to play with, and it takes up mind space, too. I can’t enjoy time with people sometimes because I want to be at home playing with my stuff. And I can’t have people over because I was using my stuff and now it is a mess all over the place and I couldn’t invite you over to see my mess. And anyway, where would you sit? (I tend to spread my mess all over the place when I am creating.)
Now I am not saying we shouldn't own things. I am saying the things shouldn't own us. The things in and of themselves are not bad. I am the problem. My focus. My happiness.
I have known this about myself for a long time. And God has rooted a lot of it out of me. He had me go for a year without buying myself anything, or even accepting gifts. I did get some things for Christmas, but for the most part, I fasted from stuff. I wrote about that journey here: Enough Already!!
But I still have so far to go.
He showed me that this morning as I was walking the dog. He and I often talk while I am walking. Sometimes I want to, other times I don't want to hear what He has to say. Today I was listening.
I walk my dog every morning and inevitably when we cross the street to head home, she longs to go back to the other side of the street. She's so busy looking across the street, she fails to realize that there's grass right next to her. She is looking so intently at what she doesn't have that she misses what's right there in front of her! She strains at the leash to get over to the other side and I have to guide her back over and over and over until she realizes what she needs right beside her. And that this side is actually better than the other. Less anthills. More grass. More smells. I don't know what dogs smell, but there are evidently more of what she likes in this grass. Once she stops fighting me and gets content to be here instead of there. Like they say, “The grass is always greener on the other side.”
It is like that with us and God. We want what we want. It will make us happy. But God tries to guide us over and over, showing us His way is best. But we strain against our leash, looking and longing. Kinda like Lot's wife. Yuck. I don't want to become a dried up salt lick. Yuck.
So how do we change? What do we do about trying to fill our empty spaces with things that are not God? How do we “find our happy place” and stay there?
We go back to the garden. Back to our first love. And stop searching for happiness, and fall in love. With Him who loved us first. I realize that is over simplifying a very complicated obsession, but the facts are simple. And if you don't know how to do that, ask Him. He will show up. I promise. And it will be a surprise and come in a package you don’t expect. Maybe, you won’t even like the gift. I didn't like mine. But now I love Him so much that I can even say “thank you” for that. Because without it, I would have never known my need, and that what I was doing was just going through the motions of love, not truly loving God. Thinking I was joyful, when it was only happiness which depended on my circumstances. And that is how you know the difference:
Happiness depends on our circumstances. Joy depends on Him.
And given the choice, I will take joy every time. Because now I know the difference. And I dont need “stuff” to fill up my empty place.
Dont get me wrong. I still like stuff. I still struggle. Right now I am pining over some new art supplies called PanPastels. But I am learning that until He gives me the ok, (which might be never) I don't want them. I am not going to buy them. Because I dont want to end up hating them, and trading what I have for something so temporary. This is better. Much better.
I often find myself hearing this in my head: “Leslie, Leslie. (feel free to insert your name) You are distracted by so many things, when I only want you to sit at my feet and love me.”
When what I want to hear is this: “Leslie has chosen the best part. And it will not be taken away from her.”
So today, I choose to be content with what I have, where I am, and what I am doing. And to focus on Him. Right where I belong.
How about you? any thoughts? Feel free to comment below.