I wonder when I first learned the word "happy." I assume I learned it relative to a picture of a smiling face. See that? That face is happy. Say, "hap-py!" Happy. From where I stand, the first knowledge of the word happy is probably ages after most of us learn the meaning of happy. That is irony to me, that we first identify something from its exterior, when we've known it for awhile on the inside.
*** Today I felt happy. I had played with Little Man all morning: cars and playdough and hide n' seek. I had changed bedsheets and held a warm little boybot on my lap while eating cereal. I took a wee disco nap and then ran on the treadmill for 30 minutes and afterwards my organs felt very gooshy. I got to pick Baby Girl up from school and be the first reporter to hear the account of her day. I even got goodish news from the Boston realtor which never happens.
By mid-afternoon, I knew I didn't just feel happy, but that I had known happiness on this day.
And what of it? What was extraordinary about this day, its happenings? Perhaps that they were all backlit by gorgeous sunlight was an extra big boon to my spirits. Still, if any one of these activities was isolated from the mosaic of the others, I cannot be sure I would be waving the happy flag by lunchtime. In fact, on many days, I've gotten to do these things, with these people, in this place, and by day's end I didn't feel victorious. In fact, I probably felt one of many of the following: bored, sorry for self, envious of others.
Today, I was happy on the outside, while knowing happiness on the inside. What is clear from today is that my happy smile will surely fade, but the knowledge of this happy feeling will remain. The knowledge that even the most pedestrian of days at home, being a wife and a mother, can well up whole buckets of happiness within me. As I've learned time and time again, these sweet privileges of loving and serving my family give me such incomparable joy, joy that cannot be delivered in a package from Sephora, or found while scanning someone else's vacation album on the Faceplace. The inner happiness and utter joy of this life, this life and its duties and chores that I am so often begrudging.
Do you hear me? The happily ever after is so happening right now and it is unfolding on the inside. Whatever it is that you are called to do, whether it is to teach or coach or write or help or heal, whether it is to look at tiny worms under a microscope or skywrite a message across a big blue expanse, seek to find the joy. Don't look at what others are doing or how much they're receiving or how much easier they've got it. Just consider the blessings of today, all the things that have gone right and all the things that you've learned from that have gone utterly wrong today. Count it all as joy, writes Paul.
I just completed a study with our women's ministry called "Stuck," written by jennie allen. A couple of times, toward the end of the study, she reminds us to "Run our guts out." I just love that. And that's how I felt today after I got off the treadmill. Like my guts were bound to spill out of some open seams.
This world is so broken but I believe we can do so much good if we embrace even the smallest of ministries to which we are called and run our everloving guts out.
My prayer is that our eyes would be open and our hearts would be discerning as we recognize and know, truly, this elusive thing called happiness.