This is part of a series of posts on the book Behind Those Eyes. It was written by Lisa Whittle and is being hosted over a Lelia's site. This week was on "Ms. Happiness."
I do not know the musician or all the words. But there is part of a song that has stuck in my head since about 5th or 6th grade. Here's what I know: "Happiness is two kinds of ice cream, finding your skate key, telling the time. Happiness is learning to whistle and tying your shoe for the very first time . . . ." Wow, just think, Steak-n-Shake must have heard that song too when they started their side-by-side milkshakes. I'll take my happiness as chocolate and strawberry please.
Wouldn't it be nice if happiness were that simple? Maybe as a child it is enough. Children get joy out of the simplest of things. But as an adult, telling the time usually means we are running late because we couldn't find the car keys and there aren't two items in the house to make an edible meal.
So, just like Lisa writes, we pretend. We put on our happy faces and pretend that we are okay. "How are you?"
"Fine, great. You?'
"Good. Your husband?"
We go on pretending to be happy, but every time we pretend, we sink a bit deeper into the muck. Pretending to be happy is like trying to tread quick sand. There's no on to pull you out because they're all convinced that you two kinds of ice cream have satisfied.
I love the distinction Lisa makes between happiness and joy. There is such a huge difference. She quotes CS Lewis: "We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition, when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in the slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by an offer of a holiday at the sea."
That is so me. My friend Sandy once described my relationship with God like that. God wanting to cleanse me but me only willing to stick my foot in lest I make the ocean dirty -- never imagining it was a well spring of living water. Hopefully, I've changed since then, but that image has stuck with me.
I am the child happy with the mud pies or two kinds of ice cream. Because of that, I miss out on joy in a deep and lasting way. I go on pretending to be happy even when I'm not.
God calls us to put off the pretending and find joy -- not happiness -- in Him. Lisa writes:
Because while happiness cannot readily be achieved and is often impersonated, the reality is joy that comes from our heavenly Father is easily achieved and readily offered.
The rub is admitting I'm not happy and that I need God to give me that joy. God, please pour out your joy on all of us.