Tag Archives: happiness

This little piggy went to…

I kicked the door. I did not mean to, but I was rushing around, running late to an appointment and in my haste, I was not paying attention to where I was going.  I am clumsy by nature and accidents are a usual accordance for me, so it was not so surprising that I kicked the door as I rushed past. 

The only part of my foot that connected to the door was the most vulnerable and smallest part, my wee little toe.  If you have had the experience of hurting your little toe in a similar incident, you will understand the agony. 

Over the next few days, the toe swelled and turned a blue-black colour and I had trouble walking as putting my foot down was very sore.  This very small, not very important part of my body, which I never usually pay any attention to now had my full attention.  I could not walk without hurting it. I had trouble wearing shoes.  I could not do my normal fitness activities and even sleeping was uncomfortable and difficult. 

How can one small part of my body, impact my life so significantly?

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul compares the church to the human body.  Even the smallest, seemly unimportant part of the body is absolutely vital and indispensable.  If any part of the body is hurt or damaged the whole body suffers.

My little toe was hurt and damaged, but I did not want to remove it or hide it away instead I wanted to be extra gentle and careful and give it extra attention to restore it back to health.

As the church we can at times overlook the hurt, the damaged, the people on the margins, the ones who are hiding in the shadows or do not quite fit in.  Instead we are called to bringing them in, care for them, nurture them, taking special care with them, giving them special honour as they are a vital part of the body of Christ. They are important and significant to the health of the church.

We need diversity and variety. We all have different gifts and talents, and we need each other.  A church that is made up of just legs or arms would be useless to the world.  We need little toes as much as we need the feet to carry them. 

In your rushing about do not overlook the little toes, instead protect and take care of the little toes.

‘Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it’

1 Corinthians 12:27

The Promise of Freedom

Over time, we settle for what is easy and familiar. When you have lived with stress, depression, or pain, you get familiar with it and it becomes your companion; a measure by which you judge your life. There was a time in my Christian walk I was hiding behind a ‘good Christian’ façade, but I believed I was too broken, too sinful, or too damaged to expect anything more from life. The freedom I heard other people talk about was for them, not me. This was my lot and I was going to try and be content with it.

In the middle of mental illness, emotional pain, addictions, or even physical illness, it can be nearly impossible to imagine what it would be like to be completely free and joyful. Freedom is so much more than just being out of captivity or having a slight improvement in your circumstances. It is embracing a future that God plan especially for you and growing as a person and following your dreams.

My captivity at the time had been a combination of my past; my depression, my comfort zone, my religious beliefs, my addictions, and my low self-worth. I was a slave to these things. I could not move forward, but instead was held back in every area of my life. I was worn down by the struggle and the fight against my own inner demons and this kept me from seeing my potential.

I spent so much of my energy and time fighting to ‘break free’ from my addictions, my past, and my sin. I was fighting to fix myself and to do it through my own power. I was trying to earn my redemption when it was a gift God had already given me freely. I was wasting so much of my life pursuing the past rather than striving forward.

If we are not free, then we are captive. The world keeps us captive by telling us that we’re not good enough as we are; that we need to have more or do more. Jesus wants to turn everything on its head. Instead of making demands, he offers rest and recovery and to live freely and lightly.

My past had clouded the message of the Gospel. I just had to be more of everything and then I would feel ok and enough. I didn’t understand that what I did had no impact on God’s response to me. Grace is unearned and undeserved and God’s love and grace are abundant. That was the point of Jesus’s sacrifice for me, because of the cross I was accepted and loved. I could not do anything to make God forgive or love me more.

True freedom comes from an understanding of the total undeserved acceptance we have through Jesus. I never felt accepted or loved growing up and I never felt good enough. Even as a new Christian, I felt that the love and grace of God was based on my performance, on the things I did for God and the church. If I was just more attractive, smarter or more knowledgeable I would be worthy of love and acceptance. It was not enough for me to be just good, I had to be the best or perfect.

The freedom Jesus offers doesn’t come with special conditions. You can come to Jesus just as you are now. We do not need to ‘get our ducks in a row’ or try to make ourselves better before coming to Jesus. He wants us just as we are, warts and all. God loves me, not because of anything I did but because He created me. He knows all my very worst secrets and hidden weaknesses and loves me anyway.

As Christians, we are not promised to be slightly free or less burdened but totally free.

That change can happen quickly. It doesn’t need to be a long-drawn-out experience, freedom is instant. Your moment can occur right now. You don’t need to wait until you are at the end of your own strength to accept the strength of God in your life. In the New Testament, as Jesus travelled, he healed many people in an instant. In an instant you can choose to take that leap of belief and in an instant Jesus can change your life and free you forever. The Bible puts it plainly and simply: “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36) Jesus sets you free and you are indeed completely free without conditions. He knows you, He loves you, and He has a plan for your life, to give you hope and a future.

Hope, joy, peace, and freedom are all things that do not depend on our circumstances, unless we allow them to. We can decide every day to live in freedom and joy, because we hold on to the hope for the future as we trust God’s plans for us.

Except from book by Staci McLean ‘Soaring out of the darkness’

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:1 

Happiness is not a goal; it is a side effect.

‘Don’t worry, be happy’ was a popular song in the late 80s when I was a teenager.  It became my manta and my main goal in life was to be happy.  But I was not a happy teenager, I had a difficult home situation and was emotionally unstable.  Due to this the ‘don’t worry, be happy’ movement for me became about seeking pleasure and avoiding pain at all costs.  Seeking short term pleasure led me to make loads of terrible decisions with long last consequences and did not make me happy, it made me more miserable.  Happiness itself should not be our goal and especially looking for it in a quick fix, but joy and long-lasting happiness is a side effect or by-product of a life lived well and with purpose.

The dictionary defines happiness as a feeling of joy, pleasure, or good fortune. Being pleased, content, glad and of good wellbeing.  It is a nice definition but I think the key to happiness is not what ‘happy’ is but what causes us to be happy.

If your happiness is dependent on external sources, it will be unpredictable and changeable.  If you rely on your family, your kids, your job, your successes, your house, your possessions, your holidays to give you feelings of happiness and joy, you will ultimately experience disappointment and unhappiness as those things can never satisfy us long term or they will let us down at some point. 

But if you focus instead of living a good life, a life with God at the centre, in service to other people, caring about yourself and looking after your physical, emotional and spiritual needs you will be happy and have a type of happiness that is not dependent on the circumstances of your life but a happiness that has an eternal perspective. 

Life is filled with a mixture of emotions and our happiness levels do fluctuate with our experiences. There will be special days when we feel delighted and elated with life. There are good days when we feel content and merry and bad days when we are stressed and sad. Sometimes these things happen all at the same time. There will be times when we suddenly feel sad at a happy event or have a moment of laughter in the middle of grief.  Our humanity allows us to experience a range of emotions, but a solid baseline of happiness unrelated to any situation you find yourself in, will keep bringing you back to a joyful and grateful wellbeing.

That baseline of happiness is the joy and freedom of a relationship with Jesus. The joy of knowing Jesus is what allowed the disciples to sing in prison and rejoice in hardship and under persecution. Their happiness was because of their knowledge of and their faith in Jesus. Happiness was never their goal but it was a side effect of their faith.

“I have neither tongue nor pen to express to you the happiness of such as are in Christ.”

Samuel Rutherford