Today's topic is "Happiness is."
I'm having a lot of trouble with this one (I know, I just got started, and already I'm having trouble) because I so very seldom use the word happy. I try to focus on joy, on contentment. When I think about the things I wish for my children, I want them to be happy for sure, but even more than happiness I want them to be content with their lives, to be satisfied, to be fulfilled. In the words of Thoreau, I want them to "live deliberately...to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life." Sometimes that isn't always happy work. It's complex and confusing, often arduous and sometimes painful.
"Happy," for me, conjures up images of neatly wrapped packages all tied up with pretty bows. Sometimes we receive those packages in life. And it's beautiful when we do. It's lovely to receive one of those gifts and have the excitement of unwrapping what's inside. It's lovely to have one of those moments when everything is tied up neatly, just for that moment, shimmering and sparkling and just plain pretty. But that's exactly what they are...just moments. It's not a whole lifetime of one beautiful present after another. Often our gifts come plainly wrapped with little fanfare, and we have to work for them. We have to dig up the treasure, get some dirt under our fingernails, sweat a little. And that, I think, is where the real joy comes from, the contentment that isn't just skin-deep happiness.
What it really comes down to for me is that life is really about people. It's about loving others out of the overflow of God's love for us. And loving others, although it can be filled with happy moments, is not always happy work. The depth and strength of the love we build when we endure life's less-than-happy moments is where we find true contentment and fulfillment. It is the true lifeblood, the marrow, of our lives.