Kim Davis became national news out of Kentucky when she refused to give marriage licenses to same sex couples. The fallout was that she would stand before a federal judge, be sent to jail where she spent six days, and when released face the wrath of any and everyone who wanted to call her a name and criticize her past or her present or her faith or her future. According to Davis, she was called Hitler and hypocrite and told that God does not love people like her.
One reporter who interviewed her days after she was released from jail asked, “Why do you feel your moral conscience is more important than someone else’s happiness?” That is a fair question and a legitimate question, but I must add a question built on the wrong premise. For decades now the culture, especially here in America, has been built on the premise that the chief goal of man is to be happy. The thought is that God made us to be happy and He is only happy when we’re happy.
Back in the ‘60s the sexual revolution and freedom of sexual expression were all the headlines and, coupled with an incredible, insatiable appetite for drugs that would lift you up or zone you out, had swept the country. Everybody wanted to feel good and just be happy. The capsule statement of those days was, “If it feels good, do it,” and if it feels good and you do it, you will ultimately be happy.
The problem was — and is — that’s not true. Simply because you break down walls and barriers and live in a world where all restraints have been thrown off in every area of life does not in any way assure happiness and certainly does not bring out ultimate purpose in life. Here’s the great question: Is the ultimate goal of the human being to be happy? I realize that in our founding documents you will find, “…and the pursuit of happiness…” as one of the core ideas. The problem is that happiness is an elusive idea and as much as you may chase after it, the more distant it may become.
Happiness is not an acquired commodity, but nearly always a byproduct of right pursuits and right relationships. You can’t buy it or simply acquire it, but you will often find it waiting in the wings as you go after something right or good or godly in your life. If your chief question and goal in life is, “How can I be happy?” you may never attain it. Do you think Jesus was happy? I think the answer is a resounding yes. His goal and pursuit in life was always to do the Father’s will, not just to find the happy zone in life.
The results of a study that was done on happiness were recently released, and the findings were fascinating. One of the things the study pointed out was that the happiest period in most people’s lives is from ages 15-24. Two of the reasons given were that the burdens of responsibility are not as great as in later periods of life, and that in large measure as these young people were transitioning to adults they still had solid support from parents.
The study reported that happiness begins to diminish after age 24, attributed to the facts that most people were by that age married or having children or incurring increasing debt or facing the payoff of the student loans or purchasing a home, and all the burdens of being grown up kind of comes crashing in on folks.
The study also observed that all the joy and the happiness stuff of the 15-24 age period stay pretty much in the distant future until returning at about age 80. At that point, the study said, people become more relaxed and probably more reasoned in their approach to life, and resolve to enjoy what life they have. Well, the other piece of that is that the average person does not live to be 80. The average lifespan is in the 70s range and so I guess if you know the Lord and you go on to be with Him, real eternal happiness becomes a part of daily life.
I got to thinking about that study and what the researchers had found. I personally didn’t remember the 15-24 age period of life as being incredibly happy, not out of the norm at least. I do remember some things that I did, and probably what I was at 15 and 16 and 17 that I would hate to think I was going back there, but somewhere down the pathway of life I discovered that God only gives us one day at a time. I’ve often thought, what would we do if He handed us two days at one time? That would be a mess. Just a day at a time, and Scripture says, “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Ps. 118:24).
Whether you are age 20 or 120, the only opportunity you have to be blessed or to be a blessing is the one day that is before you right now. You cannot go back and do anything about the 15-24 age period or all the good things that have happened or didn’t happen through the decades of your life, but today — today— you have the privilege and I think the responsibility of not only wanting to be happy but being a blessing to others and doing something that will honor the Lord, bless the folks around you, and just keep your eyes open because you may find that you run slap dab into a happiness moment.
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.