Do you feel it, too, friend? No matter that it’s summer. Spring, Fall, Winter… whatever the season, it seems like there’s always a reason to run dry. To run on empty.
So when I saw that my blogging buddies at B&H were offering The Sacrament of Happy for review, this pretty little blue book with a mama and her baby, laughing, on the cover, I filled out the form without a second thought.
And when I read it, the words felt like a letter written straight to my heart. So instead of writing a review (like I’m supposed to do), I’ve decided to write my own letter, a thank-you letter, to the author.
I’ve heard it too, over and over — just like you. In discipleship schools and college classes and Sunday-morning folding chairs.
Don’t seek happiness, they say. Seek joy. There’s this understanding that happiness is dependent on our circumstances – that it can be taken away as quick as an ice cream-cone can melt or a bank account can dwindle. Therefore we should not seek it. (Why seek a thing of this world, they say. A thing we can lose?)
Instead, seek JOY, they tell us. Joy is supposed to be this deep, abiding gladness whose roots go down as deep as our hope in Christ. Joy can never be taken away, they say, so seek that instead.
And they’re right. About our joy at least, how it’s secure like our future with Jesus.
But are they right about happiness? Is it really such an opposite of joy? Are joy and happiness such enemies of one another that we can’t pursue both?
Or are they… as you’ve said… “more like fraternal twins than distant cousins.”
Have we so misinterpreted the word “happy” that we don’t even know what it means? That we’re afraid of it?
We think that happy means dandelions floating on the wind. It means snuggling a child who will grow up too quick. It means chatting with a friend who can’t stay long enough. We’re afraid to feel it because we’re afraid to lose it.
Beautiful moments do usher happiness into our lives. But what if happy doesn’t hang on the moment? What if happy means simply knowing what’s true… and feeling it?
I finished your book last night. And when I closed that shiny blue cover, I knew something. When it comes to happiness and joy, they’re not so different from one another… in fact, you can’t really have one without the other.
If I really know the joy that comes with knowing that Christ Himself makes His home in me… then when I look around, I’ll see His creativity in the elephants at the zoo, and His power in the stars over my head. And I’ll feel His happy.
If I let down my walls enough to know the happiness that comes from doing a thing I love, like making good smells come from the kitchen, or sighs of happiness come from kids reading books, then joy will follow… joy at the God who gave me all this.
And when I close my eyes to imagine… I can almost picture Him, bare feet pounding on the road, racing to rescue His child… just like the Prodigal Father ran… then I really don’t know the difference anymore, between happiness and joy. Because He carried that Cross. He ran when I was lost. So how can I say yes to one but not the other?
All that to say… thank you, Lisa. Thank you for knowing just what a tired mama needs. Thank you for donating a portion of every sale of the book to growing a sustainable garden in Haiti, a nation that needs to see and feel God’s love. Thank you for sharing your stories, your victories and losses, your traumas and your tears, your laughter and your fears, to make your readers feel a little less alone. While you shared your hurts and your long path of healing, you taught us that “happy and sad are not mutually exclusive.”
Thank you for tearing down our understanding of the word happy and building it back up again with wise words. You researched the Word and you researched experts like C.S. Lewis and John Piper and Tim Keller and famous psychologists. Your book finally and definitively defends our God as a happy God. Thank you for including thought-provoking, but simple, questions at the end of every chapter. Thank you for writing maybe the first book that really tells a Christian heart… how to be happy. How to fight for our happy.
And now I’m off to practice what you’ve preached (and you preached it good)… and take three curly-headed kids to jump on trampolines. And maybe even take a bounce or two myself.
Your Grateful Reader,