Caring for the Soul

December 20, 2009

The Spiritual Realm and Genuine Happiness

I remember when I was a child I would go to Vacation Bible School every summer.  There we would sing the song “When you’re Happy and You Know It”.  It’s a fun song which most people have heard at least once if not one too many times as the song repeats itself over and over.  You clap your hands, then stomp your feet and it just makes you feel good.    If you were not happy before singing the song you will be by the time it’s over.  Happiness is a good thing.  It cures the soul.  It’s when we are happy that we are most successful and fulfilled.  However, ironically enough, happiness is not always a good thing.

It’s Not All about Me – Matthew 20: 1-16
When we occupy ourselves with reaching the state of being happy we lose sight of the true meaning of happiness.   We become so engrossed in the search itself that we become inwardly focused and self-absorbed. True happiness must be outwardly focused.  We cannot truly be content if we are possessed with a self-consumed mentality that causes us to forget about others. Happiness is coming to the point of realizing that it is not all the time about me.

Look Beyond the Self – Luke 15:11-32
Yet it is so hard to look beyond the self in such a post-modern culture which says, “Do whatever makes you feel good.” We see this post-modernistic reality in all areas of life including, but most definitely not limited to, the music industry which releases hit singles with the titles: “It’s all about Me, Let’s Talk about Me, Songs about Me, What About Me” and the list could go on and on.  Our culture is so egotistically absorbed with the self and what makes the self happy.  If we just follow eight simple steps or register to receive a daily email from, we can achieve the ultimate state of satisfaction. However, this happiness which is referred to is only an illusion which disappears when the smoke and mirrors are gone and we find ourselves alone.

Don’t Forget What’s Right – Proverbs 10:9
It is at the point when we become more concerned about our own happiness and identify with it being okay to be self-absorbed that we forget about morals.  We cannot view things in the light of being right or wrong if we are guided by selfishness.  Black and white; good and bad; right and wrong, no longer matter.  But what begins to matter is “as long as you are happy then it’s okay”.  We forget about Godliness or better know as holiness, which in today’s society is a forgotten term.  Yet scripture still commands that we are righteous and keep His commandments in order to be happy.

Genuine Happiness – Jeremiah 29:11
When we forgo what is right in order to be happy for a moment we also forgo genuine happiness.  But what is genuine happiness?  Helen Keller once said, “Many people have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” As Christians this worthy purpose is our relationship with Jesus Christ.  Genuine happiness is living in unity with Christ.  Yet this does not mean we live a life without trials.

If we do not have a relationship with Christ we have no purpose in our life.  When one has no purpose, hopelessness resides.  It is only when our eyes are open to this reality that we are truly happy.  It is only when we are filled with the Holy Spirit that we are happy.

Filling our God Shaped Void – John 6: 35
Without Christ we have a God shaped void, my mentor once said.  Meaning this void cannot be filled with money or success, but can only be filled by God.  Without filling this void we will continue without vial to be happy.  Therefore, it appears that Godliness is the ultimate true happiness.  If we do what is pleasing to Christ then we lead a fulfilled life which eventually leads to an eternal life for those who have this “fidelity to a worthy purpose”.   There can be nothing more satisfying than to know that we will live forever in true bliss without pain, tears, or sadness.

So genuine happiness is coming to the point where we can look beyond our selfishness and realize that it is not all about me in order to live a righteous lifestyle.  But the first and foremost key to the success of achieving happiness is filling our God shaped void; for without we will have truly missed the reason for our existence. Happiness is not in the material but in the spiritual.  Our earthly lives are not to be self-consumed but a mirror reflection of our eternal life of praise to our Heavenly Father.  Happiness is freedom and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.

November 30, 2009

Beyond the Self

In today’s postmodern western context there is a great desire to become more aware of the self. Who am I? What do I want out of life? What will make me happy? These have become common questions. This fixation with introspection stems from our desire to reach a certain level of self-fulfillment. Some believe that the better they know themselves, the more likely they are to be fulfilled as individuals. Undeniably, introspection may produce a certain level of satisfaction, but there is also the danger that the more one looks inward, the less one has the ability to see through another’s eyes. When we become too consumed with ourselves, egocentrism sets in and it becomes difficult to value the opinions of others.

Having Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in mind, it appears that this desire to look inward is most prominent when basic needs have been fulfilled and an individual is comfortable and safe within a certain way of living. Thus there exists a connection between achieving self-enlightenment and having one’s needs met. It is when one is secure that he or she begins to look inward. So, if one were to be removed from his or her comfort zone it is reasonable to conclude that he or she would be more readily to look outward, beyond the self. Consequently, once one is removed from his or her comfort zone, then one becomes less concerned with the self and finds a greater appreciation for other perspectives. In other words, being away from one’s familiar context ultimately produces a greater appreciation and sensitivity for the unfamiliar.

If we reach a point of becoming so secure and comfortable that our vision of the world beyond us becomes blurred and we become immersed in our own world, then how can we reach true fulfillment? It is only when we look beyond ourselves that we are truly able to enjoy life fully. When we step out of our comfort zone our eyes are opened.

It would be safer to remain secure in our small self-centered worlds, yet this is not what God called us to do. He said go unto the uttermost parts of the world. This is a command to live outside of what is comfortable: to look beyond. We can attempt to be fulfilled or satisfied through remaining in a safe zone where all our needs are fulfilled and therefore are able to reach a certain level of enlightenment, yet regardless of how introspective we become, satisfaction can only be achieved through knowing our creator and not through knowing the creation.

So being consumed with ourselves, being safe with our lifestyles, being surrounded by what is familiar will not satisfy. It is only when we move beyond ourselves, beyond our comfort zones into the unfamiliar that we can reach true fulfillment. It is then that we are doing what creation is purposed to do and that is to go beyond the walls of comfort and security, to step out in faith and to listen to His voice to go wherever He leads and do whatever He commands.