Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What Makes You Happy?

In Desiring God, John Piper presents the idea that God seeks His own happiness. It makes sense and I can see that it's true. But my stoic mindset tells me it's wrong. That seeking my own happiness is sinful and evil. It turns out that's a lie from the devil.

Blaise Pascal wrote, "All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves."

(Of course, the final phrase sent me down a new grief path for a few days as I worked through Dad's ultimate motive for hanging himself.)

A self-condemning part of me healed when I learned the truth that seeking my own happiness is not sin. In fact, because God seeks his own happiness, my desire to seek my own happiness is part of being made in the image of God. It's a good thing.

C.S. Lewis says that God's problem with our desires is not that they are too strong, but that they are too weak. I desire dumb stuff, thinking it will bring me ultimate happiness. But ultimate happiness is found in God. I need to think bigger.

As I learn to embrace the truth that seeking my own happiness is okay, I'm discovering what actually makes me happy. Which is happier to me? Leaving the dirty dishes on the counter or putting them in the dishwasher and having clean dishes? Having clean dishes makes me happier! Dusted surfaces make me happier than dusty surfaces. Clean clothes put away make me happier than dirty clothes strewn about the house. Being honest with Jeff about my failures makes me happier than closing myself off from him in a prison of shame and guilt. And ultimately, worshiping God makes me happier than not worshiping him.

Also, writing this blog post makes me happier than not writing it. So that's happy.