Curtis K. Shelburne
I’m thankful for the Brits! When the last star twinkles its last twinkle on this world’s last night, if the United States still stands, the English will still be standing right beside us as our most trusted and time-tested friends. I believe that.
But I can’t help but remind you that back when our nation was just being born over 200 years ago now, relations with King George were a bit strained.
You may recall that our founding fathers sent his majesty a pretty impressive note, something to the effect that among the truths we hold to be “self-evident” was that the “inalienable” rights with which all men are endowed derive not from the state and its monarch but from the Creator, the Highest of Kings (something modern legislators and judges would do well to remember). And, it went on, among those rights are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” What a document! And filled with truth about, well, life and liberty and happiness, and much more.
But I’m struck by the fact that our lives, if they’re going to be very meaningful, and our liberty, if we’re truly to be free spiritually as well as legally, depend quite a bit upon how we go about that “pursuit of happiness.” The way many folks in our society today chase happiness virtually insures that they’ll never “catch” it.
You see, happiness —the genuine article —is something that can never truly be “caught” if we make catching it, possessing it, our primary goal. If you want to be absolutely miserable, I’d suggest that you spend a good bit of time each day focusing on yourself and asking, “Am I really happy?” You won’t be.
Happiness comes when we get over ourselves. It comes as a wonderful byproduct of doing our duty, loving the people around us, living in grateful thanksgiving to the God above us, and, wonder of wonders, it’s not something we catch, it’s something that catches us, almost by surprise. And we suddenly realize that, were someone to ask the question, “Are you really happy?” the answer would be, “Well, I hadn’t thought that much about it, but, yes, I really am!”
This can get pretty practical. Want an example?
According to James Dobson, an interesting national survey of families and households just released found that “among those who initially rated their marriages as ‘very unhappy,’ but remained together, nearly 80 percent considered themselves ‘happily married’ five years later.” For those who divorced, the opposite was found to be true.
Sure, some marriages, truly dead or abusive, must be buried. But evidently lots of folks who pursue divorce pursuing happiness, don’t find it that way. What they do find is custody battles, scarred children, almost certain financial disaster, loneliness, and, as often as not, a real cycle of unhappiness.
Happiness. Let’s be wise about how we “pursue” it.