It is very, very rare that I will open up The Mom Creative for a guest post. But I absolutely adore Kristen Welch and the work she does for Mercy House. Her writing has made me a better mom and person. I hope you will connect with her words about happiness today and buy her new book, Raising World Changers in a Changing World. Today is the last day to preorder it and when you do, you get a free clutch and a bunch of other adorable goodies. Seriously – the freebies are worth more than the book, so go order the book, then go here to claim them.
True contentment is being okay with life whether we get our way or not.
When my teenager wants another new pair of shoes or the latest scarf to add to her collection, I usually want to give it to her and that would certainly make her happy (for the time being). But since my ultimate goal is to reduce entitlement, feed gratitude, and produce contentment, I don't automatically buy it for her. While I do sometimes buy my kids things just because I want to, I don't always, and this alone can produce temporary unhappiness. Anyone know what I'm talking about? I often make them save, work, or wait for it, and then sometimes bless them with it after they've worked hard for something they've had their eye on.
“Did you know that your job as a parent is not to create a happy child? That if your child is temporarily unhappy, when he or she does choose to put a happy face back on, life will be better for all of you?” Dr. Kevin Leman
We live in a culture that is terrified of raising unhappy kids. We overindulge, cater to every whim in a quest for their happiness, and often let them grow up much faster than they need to. When the Bible talks about trials and tribulations testing our faith and making it stronger, that's not intended only for adults. It's for believers. Some of the best lessons my kids have learned are through their own personal hardships (a fashion crisis can be a hardship to a teen girl). So when our kiddos are pouting and mumbling and seem unhappy, take heart-you are doing a good job and ultimately raising healthy adults.
The truth is life can be hard. There are unexpected detours in our journeys that are heartbreaking and difficult to process. If we don't understand this, we can't possibly teach it to our children. We were created to be satisfied by God, not by this world, so all this searching for happiness will only lead us to unhappiness.
This became especially clear when my family and I sat in a Bible study and listened to the prayer requests around the room. I caught myself thinking about the difference between first- and third-world prayers, and I wondered what in the world God must think? In one part of the world I've witnessed people begging God for provision for one more day, and here at home I've listened to good church folk asking God for more, more, more-not realizing how much they already have. God created all and loves each of us completely, but if one group isn't helping the other (and both need help), I don't know what we are really doing here.
I quickly swallowed down any judgmental thoughts because I knew these good people were just like me-one minute wanting to change the world and the next being changed by it.
We are so distracted by our culture of plenty that we feed ourselves all we can, yet we walk away empty and unsatisfied. My son noticed the depth of the prayer requests too and mentioned it to me. He took it a step further and said, “Mom, it seems like even Christians try to fill their lives with stuff, and no matter how much they have, they want more.” He was referring to friends who live in a stunning home, and their prayer request was about selling it to build a better one. It's confusing. We talked about it for a while, and I reminded him that distraction was one of our greatest enemies. And even though it might look different in our lives, we were guilty too.
If the “wanting to do something” was the same as “doing something” we would all be Mother Teresa. But somewhere between the want to and the follow through we are often distracted by something shiny or blinking or our own first-world problems. That same week we had pipes break, toilets overflow, a retainer eaten by a dog, and cars in repair, and before you knew it I was preaching to the choir and my want to fell off by the wayside.
I realized I'd been trying to convince people to share what they have been given because we have been given so much. While this is not exactly wrong, it's not what Jesus asks of us. It isn't about sharing our lives; it's about surrendering them. And what's so crazy and beautiful is that when we surrender everything, we get twice as much in return! This is the key to true happiness.