Saturday, March 6, 2010
A letter to my children...
This week at work, I overheard a conversation between a mother and her two children, in which she told them "I'll do whatever it takes to make you happy. Don't worry, kids. Mom can make you happy no matter what. Let's go to Walmart, then McDonalds". My heart was broken from that conversation. There is NOTHING at Walmart or McDonalds that will ever bring about lasting joy. Happiness if temporary sweet friend. Anyway, all of that led me to spend some time thinking about what it is that I have taught my children that I desperately want for them. So, here it is...
Dear Bryan & Ellie,
You may find it hard to believe what I'm about to write here, but please hear me out before you freak out!
As your mom, I have many things that I want and pray for in your lives. But, I do NOT want you to be happy. (I told you it would be surprising; hear me out here!)
For the past year or so, God has really been dealing with me on this, the idea of being happy in life. And the more I've learned, the more I want to pass along to you, my legacy. You see kids, happiness is something that is determined by your situation in life. It's fleeting, to say the least. I'm happy when I get a good buy on a sweet purse. But a purse will never change my life. I'm happy when you pick up your toys or dirty clothes. But when you don't, where does that leave me? Happiness is a great thing, don't get me wrong; it feels good. Real good. But when I think of what it is that I want most for your lives, it's just not there.
I've watched both of you experience happiness. Bryan, you are happy when you get a drum beat down or when you get the "okay" on having a band practice here at the house. But what about those days that we can't have your friends over, or the beat is too hard to perfect in one practice session. What do you feel then? Ellie, you are happy when you are getting beads in your hair or getting a book read to you. But what about the times we have to tell you "no" about the book or whatever it is you want to play? Will your happiness fade with each "no" you get in life?
Really kids, it's not that I don't ever want you to experience happiness; it's just that it's not my goal for you to be happy all of your lives. And I don't want it to be your goal either. I never want to watch you spend your life chasing after something that is always contingent on your surroundings. Because let me tell you, your surroundings will change all the time, from year to year, week to week, day to day, and moment to moment.
So, what DO I want for you?? Well, for one thing, I want you to be CONTENT.
Contentment is so much better than happiness, kids. Seriously better. Contentment is that crazy thing that makes us still smile, even though we didn't get our way, didn't get a raise (in allowance or at work), didn't finish a project when we had hoped, when a friend treats us not-so-friendly, when we have to do homework instead of play, when we can't go out to eat because we are doing the Dave Ramsey thing. Contentment comes from within. And within those of us who have a relationship with Christ, the Spirit of God is living in us. THAT is what gives contentment kids.
In Scripture, Paul went through some tough times... some would say horrible times. Yet, he said this.. "I've have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want". (Phil 4:11b-12)
That is what I want for you kids. I want you to be at peace with your Father, no matter what the world is throwing your way. There will be times in your life when everything you touch works well. And sadly, there will be times when nothing seems to go your way. Yet God is always the same, always with you, always loving you, always forgiving. That gives contentment. My prayer is that you learn to grasp that in your lives.
Contentment leads to spiritual maturity, I do believe. It helps us to realize the blessings of our lives. It is never going to be the materialistic things in life that give you peace, joy and fulfillment. Only God can bring about lasting contentment. I pray you are able to find it. Life is one heck of a ride, kids! Make each moment count!
I love you,