Friday, May 11, 2012

Happy vs. Holy

I came across a blog the other day. I'm always discovering blogs. I could spend my life exclusively reading blogs, there are so many I'd love to get to.

This one was a tad different. It wasn't an autism blog, for one, but about a man and a woman. Ian and Larissa. Six years ago Ian was in a devastating car accident and was severely brain damaged. He and Larissa had been dating for less than a year and had planned on getting married a few months after the accident. They ended up marrying a few years later. Ian is not fully recovered and barring a miracle never will be in this life. But Larissa didn't walk away. She stayed close. She became his wife. She doesn't have the man she dreamed of. Yet she chose him anyway.

I was sitting in a mom's group recently, watching a DVD about marriage, when the speaker posed a question that stopped me cold:

"What if the primary purpose of marriage was not to make you happy, but holy?"

The words echoed through my mind as I went about the rest of my day. At first they felt like a gut-punch. How could that be? Of course marriage is supposed to make you happy. I tried to figure out why I couldn't let go of the phrase, why it resonated so. And I wondered: What if? What if I didn't just apply the phrase to marriage but to caring for my kids, to friendships, to life?

It's Not About Me, rings the title of a Max Lucado book, yet we all live lives that are very much all about us and 99 percent of the time don't even realize it. When I stopped to think, to really think, it came to me that a great amount of the dissatisfaction I had with others and with circumstances in general was directly related to how I thought they were impeding my happiness.

If only she would stop making those blunt comments...
If only the vacuum hadn't broken...
If only he would be better about picking up after himself...
If only they had made better choices...
If only she would stop losing her temper...
If only I had more time to do things I want to do...

The more I thought about this, the more I became a bit indignant. We can't all be saints, I thought. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be happy. I can't just be a selfless martyr. I'm not Mother Theresa.

I was sitting in church last night. There was nothing but music this service, featuring a band from out in western New York. They began to sing a song I hadn't heard before:

Nothing else matters
Nothing in this world will do
Jesus you're the center
Everything revolves around you
From my heart to the heavens
Jesus be the center
It's all about you
It's all about you

In my mind I suddenly had a picture of the solar system. And I thought about the people of times long ago, people who were mistaken in their perspective, who were so certain that the planets and sun revolved around the earth. It took a few men to fight against the tide, against the conventional thinking. They realized that things just didn't add up. Something was off, something was skewed. They turned the world upside down by proposing something that seemed so opposed to the way everyone believed and everyone lived.

The sun is at the center. The Son at the center. Of course? The life source, the light source, would be in the middle of it all, has to be at the middle of it all.

People hear the word holy and think it means living a life devoid of joy or fun. They think of some sort of miserable Puritan. They think of a person who would never dance; who would never truly love. That is not the holy I'm talking about. This verse comes to mind:

"Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness." - Philippians 2:4-7

We are born selfish but were born for something more than ourselves. We were born to serve. When you think about all of the great stories, all of the great movies, how many of them involve some kind of selfless act? How many are about sacrifce? There is something in us that deeply admires these things.

I'm not Mother Theresa. I never will be. But I can be just a little bit more like her -- like Jesus. When I just decide that I want to, I can hear the words holy and happy and, a little more each day, long for holy, not just happy. When we choose holy first we acknowledge that we are here for reasons far beyond just ourselves -- and that we won't be here for very long. We are living on borrowed time, practicing for eternity, when we pick up dirty laundry or choose to hold our tongue or push our damaged husband in a wheelchair. We are holy when we love first, as He first loved us.

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