In the Pursuit of Happiness…
Having revealed in my last post that for the past few years I’ve struggled with depression and some difficult themes that I’d care never to repeat, I thought it would be apropos to post an article that has been of invaluable help to me in those times…something that Rich Mullins (of Blessed Memory) wrote many years ago…something that I hope will be of help to anyone who finds themselves in the throes of despair that I found myself in previously. I recited this at our Summer Camp many years ago as an aid to the campers returning home…how ironic that I would need it for myself a couple of years later. I suppose “ironic” is not the correct word, and rather, “by God’s good graces” would be truly, apropos… Enjoy!
“The Pursuit of Happiness”
by: Rich Mullins
1. Forget about finding happiness. Happiness is not worthy of your search.
2. Bake a cake – a really rich cake, preferably from scratch (and especially if you are an inexperienced baker or a tested, tried and notoriously awful cook). The value is in the baking more than in the cake.
3. Call up some enemy of yours and invite that enemy to eat the cake with you. If the cake is good you may lose an enemy and gain a friend. If the cake is bad, at least vengeance is sweet.
4. If you can’t think of a single enemy, then call up a friend. Invite your friend over to eat the cake with you. If the cake is good the favor may be returned. If the cake is awful your friend may go buy one from a bakery for you. If you are without enemies or friends, take your cake to an old folks’ home. Eat it with them! If the cake is good you will no longer be without friends. If the cake is terrible you will no longer be without enemies.
Finding a friend, making an enemy – now those are things worth pursuing. Happiness may come tagged on – but even if it doesn’t, at least you will have done something and established some relationships.
5. Memorize Isaiah 40 or the first Psalm or Psalm 91. Read the closing chapters of the Book of Job. Meditate on the Beatitudes (Mathew 5). Write out one of the Prison Epistles (Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians) and send them to some other unhappy person.
All of this may not make you happy, but it will tell you how to be holy. Once you tie that knot, you may find yourself in a position to be made happy.
6. Work hard. Clean something. Find new and more space-efficient ways of holding your clothes. Rake someone else’s yard for them. If you are unhappy, maybe you can help someone else be less so.
7. Go back to the 3rd chapter of Lamentations and then repeat after me:
“It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young. Let him sit alone in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him.”
8. Reread the 23rd Psalm, and remember, that if the Lord is your Shepherd, then you are in a lush pasture. You are by a still stream. If it seems otherwise to you, it may be because you would rather be happy than be God’s. If this is so, then you have more reason to be happy than anyone. God has chosen you – ungrateful, decadent you – and being His is a joy and a happiness that goes beyond anything else you may seek, and in your folly settle for. God will (in His mercy) make you discontent with anything less than Him.
So we only have one step left…