HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!!
Or we certainly hope and pray so! Right?
Come the end of every calendar year, we all wish each other a Happy New Year!. Naturally, that truly is our wish for each other, and in fact, ourselves. And damn if it doesn’t feel good, to have that fresh new calendar year ahead of us! A clean slate. A new start, with new hope. 12 months, when all kinds of wonderful things, have the potential to happen!
But the fact is, we all know that life, is just not happy ALL of the time. And it certainly does not come about, with just hopes and wishes.
If we’re human, and I can only assume anyone reading this is, the truth of the matter is that no one ever has a 100% happy year. One free of very difficult unexpected events, failures, losses and rough days that just seem to go all wrong with the little things. Things that can sometimes just pile up and break us down. No, no one has ever had a year free of all of those things. Chances are, not a soul will have one this year, either! And I just feel it on my heart to share my thoughts with you all, a little bit, about that today. Not because I want to bring anyone down, to kick off your new year! Perhaps, so no one is overly disappointed when day 3, or any other brand new day of the new year, seems to go all wrong. 😉 But, more-so, my intention is to bring you some great hope and comfort about the matter! In my own rambling kind of way, of course.
I’ve just been thinking, how people seem to be hardwired, to pursue ultimate happiness in life. Marketing ads everywhere, do not help in the least, either. These corporations make a pretty penny, pitching all kinds of things that will make your life easier, simpler, and of course, HAPPIER! And sadly, much of society in general is so desperate to have those things; those things that it appears everyone else already has (in an effort to look like you’re keeping up with the Jones’, so to speak, dont’cha know)…..that they buy into it! Such marketing pitches are almost guaranteed cash flow, for these businesses. Because people are searching for…..something. Some aren’t even sure where the void is, or what they are trying to fill it with. But, life can’t be perfect, and we shouldn’t be surprised or disappointed, or even be feeling like ‘why me/us’, when it isn’t even meant to be, 100% of the time. Not in that way, and definitely not from those things.
Sure, we can all have some happiness! And God-willing, we all do have some, and long stretches of it. Some more than others, perhaps, and for various complex reasons. Semi-contentment, is a place we often settle for. But the source of true happiness…..JOY…..my friends, can only be found in Jesus; in knowing God. Holding a great place for Him, in our lives, is where from all the good things flow. (Whether one is acknowledging that or not.) It is there, in our engagement and Communion with God, that we can experience authentic JOY. Not always in the traditional sense that we have fabricated happiness to be. But in the sense of Peace. Strength. Hope. Gratitude. Those valuable resources that help us navigate these treacherous daily waters, that we call LIFE! They are not things that we can count on obtaining from the things of this world.
As a side note, to me, happiness and joy, are kind of two different things. I think of happiness more in the forms of….general contentment, laughter, things of this world that bring us some form of satisfaction. But JOY…..is something so much more. It’s so much….BIGGER! Deeper. More intense. It moves, inside of you. Far more indescribable and unexplainable. As if, it comes right from the hand of God. For me, it’s the feeling I have when, in the moment, I feel the Holy Spirit as a part of me. It’s the feeling I have deep within…..of immense, overwhelming peace and comfort, even in the most difficult moments of life. Because I know God is with me. Because I have faith in His greater plans. Because I know I have the hope of Salvation-when all that is laid before me, will be perfect.
We are meant to live a life striving for HOLINESS. And living a life of holiness, is not a picture of easy living! It isn’t meant to be. If JESUS didn’t have an easy life, we sure shouldn’t be expecting one for ourselves! In truth, if we are striving for the things we should be, it should be a fairly tough road. Because let’s face it…..people can be difficult to deal with sometimes, life can deliver some really hard blows, and we are shown time and time again, that no matter how hard we try, we really CANNOT control everything. Life is hard. I think of life as a test. And one we should all be hell-bent on passing, when we consider what may very well be at risk.
A life of holiness is one that keeps God at the center of our life, and utilizing our faith in Him and relationship with Him, to get through. There, we can find our joy. Joy….in knowing we can trust Him, knowing He gives us what is best for us in the big picture of His plan, acknowledging He is right there for us, for comfort and protection, trusting in His plan, and in glorifying Him in our lives, for the long run.
God calls us to be holy, blesses us with ‘happiness’ through holiness, and gives us all the strength we need to be holy.
The JOY, from the source; that connection with Him, and all that it represents, is such a gift! But because we are human, and because life happens and gets in our way, we tend to get distracted, and lose our grasp on it. It’s always there, for taking, to be sure. But we are just not always paying attention. It may come, when we are quiet and still in prayer, shutting everything else out. It may come when we see some of God’s Creation, in such incredible, mind blowing detail, that we are in awe. A newborn baby. A miracle of healing, no one can explain. It wells up within us, like a sea at high-tide, as we sing along to our favorite praise and worship song. It comes, when we are consciously tapping into it, and being aware of His presence with us. During the Consecration of the Mass, or receiving Communion. Connecting with God, in ALL of those moments of our lives. Paying attention.
A GREAT life, does not always equal a HAPPY life! A life well-lived, is one that strives for holiness, today, and every day. And thank God (literally) for Grace and Mercy. Because we tend to fall and stumble, time and time again. But He always welcomes us to keep trying. He’s not looking for our PERFECTION. That’s not even expected of us. He is looking to see us STRIVING. That’s what really counts. And it’s something we ALL can do, with an intentional heart. That is living a great life.
But there is more……to see and appreciate…..in the challenges of our daily life. More blessings that rise out of the ashes, of the hardest parts of our lives.
Without failures, we wouldn’t feel the triumph of successes; knowing we stuck it out, persevered, picked ourselves up AGAIN, and rallied to our ultimate goals. Without failing, we cannot learn the valuable lessons along the way, that allowed us to ultimately succeed in our endeavor.
Without sickness, we cannot appreciate the days when we are feeling well and alive! Illnesses are a reminder that we are responsible for our health, and to take care of ourselves to the best of our ability. After all, our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit! It is up to us, to eat right, exercise, and figure out the best options for optimal health, vitality and longevity. But illness is sometimes inevitable, and also a necessary reminder of our mortality.
Without losses of loved ones, we wouldn’t appreciate all who we have, while we have them. When you think about it, the loss of loved ones in part, truly points to those we still have, and reminds us of what a blessing it is that we do still have them. We are clearly reminded to make the most of that time that they are still here, or we are still here with them. If there was no losses, there would be no gratitude for life. And again, the death of loved ones, through illness or tragedy, expected or not, reminds us of our own mortality! It’s often a good (though brutally difficult and often gut-wrenching) reality check, to ‘get our affairs in order’, so to speak. Perhaps financially, but more importantly, spiritually.
Without bad days, we wouldn’t appreciate the days when things go smoothly, all as planned. Days with surprises that make us smile, even within our hearts. We are meant to give thanks, even for our most difficult days. We must give thanks for ALL that comes from the hand of God, be it easy or not.
We have no way of knowing, what the year ahead holds for us. But we do know, that in good faith, we can get through the hard times, celebrate the good times, and give thanks for all of it. How amazing it is, as Christians, to know we have the All-Powerful on our side! To know that every bit is for our good, and all if it must be given up for the Glory of God. “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13
So expect a year of mixed precipitation! For life really is like the weather.
Days of fair weather, and perfect storms, and all with one holy and divine purpose.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If authentic and uninterrupted joy is what our hearts long for, then deep down inside, what we long for, is Heaven!
I do believe that that longing is innate within us. We were created with it, and born with it, by our Maker! The mistake is seeking for that flawless happiness, here on Earth, in this temporary life. Only after this earthly existence, a life of striving, will we meet our Lord, and dwell with him in a world of 100% love, comfort, peace and never-ending JOY.
and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
So we do wish you a HAPPY NEW YEAR! But even more, we wish you a JOYFUL NEW YEAR!
It’s more than a wish. It’s our prayer, for both ourselves, as well as for you!
New year, we’re ready for you!
And to all of you, may God bless you, and your new year!