A while back i started a series (is it really a “series” when you’ve only written part 1?) of THINGS THEY NEED TO KNOW. Life moves at quantum speed and in the whirlwind of it all, i find myself thinking about all the things i want my kids to know…NOW.
Kiddos, today is a good day. Its one of those days where everything feels balanced for a minute…settled…content. In the olden days i might say “happy” but that word never quite feels right these days.
It all started a few years ago when i ran into a really sweet mama-friend at one of the many suburban caffeine haunts around here. While we waited for our ventis and grandes, she shared about a rough patch her teenager was going thru. Teenager-ing is hard business these days, guys, i get that. My friend was sad and felt helpless for her daughter who was floundering in the eye of the high school hurricane. Once her drink was ready she finished our convo with this statement: “Well, i guess the most we can hope for our kids is for them to be happy.” I agreed, hugged her neck and went on about my day.
Her well-intended statement stayed with me all day…something felt off and in need of correction. i kinda wished we would’ve sat down and broke down that parenting perspective a bit more. The question in my mind became: Is that REALLY what we want? For them to be happy?
And so, the thing you need to know is:
2. Instead of chasing after happy, focus on joy.
OK. That sounds corny…even to me. Stay with me…
For our Murphy tribe, i’d say we’re surfacing from a few of the roughest few years on the books. For lack of a better metaphor, we’ve been underwater. While we’ve been furiously kicking and paddling, it just kept seeming like a “black mile to the surface.” But today, i feel like we are surfacing. The pressure is letting up some; i can almost see a blue sky up there. We arent breathing pure oxygen quite yet, necessarily…but we are getting closer. Through all that yuck, there’s ZERO CHANCE i’d describe the past few years as “happy.” I’ve cried so many tears in 2017-2019 that i made the tough life decision to remove my fake eyelashes for a bit. Happy? No. But, joyful? Yes, definitely.
There’s this verse in James that was a game-changer for me a few years ago. James 1:2-4 goes like this:
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
That word “consider” changes everything. James didnt tell his people to “feel happy,” he said “consider it pure joy.” Happy is a feel. Joy is a choice. Would i wish away all the hard terrain we’ve traveled these past few years to trade it all in for some happy feels? Never. We’ve faced some trials. My faith has been tested. i’ve learned new ways to persevere and lean in/throttle up. i’ve come face-to-face with the reality that with my faith as the bedrock when storms hit, then i’m not lacking anything. Happy cant do that for me.
And so, i hope you both know this…life will not always be happy. i would never wish that on you.
There will be flashes of happy. But no matter what circumstances come, life can 100% be joyful. Its not natural to find joy when world is crashing down. Its not easy to “consider” joy when the bottom falls out and the tears are just too much. But its possible when u focus less on the outcomes and more on the One who never leaves you in the midst of it.
Broken bodies dont feel happy, but by considering it joy we can start to see direction and purpose in spite of the pain.
Broken trust doesnt feel happy, but by considering it joy we can see more clearly the salt of the earth kinda folks God insulates us with…who are trustworthy, steadfast, and reliable.
Broken paths dont feel happy, but by considering it joy we can start clearing the way for new paths while remembering its always an adventure.
Today as i write this i’m thinking about the last few days for both of you. Days filled with lots of memories and fun with your tribes. But just remember, whether its happy times or black-mile-to-the-surface times, you can consider it pure joy no matter what.