Monday, August 3, 2015

My Children Don't Make Me Happy (And I Don't Make Them Happy Either)

For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O Lord, You surround him with favor as with a shield.
The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.  
But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.

The Bible has a lot to say about being righteous. Even more about the holiness of God. It speaks of the joy of having salvation, and knowing that you are bathed in favor, that God meets the needs of His children, and God as a good Father. Know what the Bible doesn't really say anything about?
Being happy.

It's almost like being happy is an afterthought of God's. It certainly isn't to us. The quest for "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" is not lost on us. And yet, while the Bible mentions Joy in almost every book, the term "Happy" is never really mentioned.

Why? Because the pursuit of happiness takes a backseat to the pursuit of holiness.

Holy is about choosing the right way to do things, even when you're exhausted. Holy is about choosing to wait until you get home to make dinner, instead of spending money you don't have on takeout. Holy is about choosing to do the dishes over complaining about doing the dishes. Holy is about taking a day where everyone's cranky, and making it a "dance party day" and eat popsicles on the porch. Holy means delayed gratification and responsible spending and being a person of integrity, even when you're the only person who knows that.

In short, Holy goes against our very nature to indulge our cravings, our entitlements, and our emotions. It goes against what we feel like we should be getting. It's our job as Christians to desire and chase after Holiness - not Happiness.

The problem is; I think we have our priorities a little skewed. When we get married, we expect that our mate has put their priorities on hold to totally focus on ours. We expect that they want to make us happy. We expect to be put first and to always be the priority. Then Life shows up; and Life demands that someone leave a job so that someone else can take a great opportunity. Life demands that someone be the caretaker when the other one is sick. All of a sudden, our brokenness is revealed and how once we thought the other person was totally perfect - is just as screwed up as we are. We're left unhappy and unfulfilled - and bitter at the other person for not making us happy.

Now, enter children.

Ask any parent of a child a week old or more and they'll tell you the Johnson and Johnson commercials of sweet rocking of a sleeping baby, a cooing in the bathtub, etc are the biggest lie in the Devil's kingdom to date. Putting a diaper and a onesie on a newborn is like stuffing an octopus in a pillowcase. And J&J never show that as soon as you finally get that diaper on - it's full. And you get to start again.

What we have forgotten is that we get married because iron sharpens iron, and we've chosen to get the daylights beaten out of us until we're finally worth something. We have children because we choose to bless future generations with leaders who pursue excellence. We don't get married or have kids because we want to live in a pristine home and fulfill every whim our emotions can manufacture. We are choosing to become a better version of ourselves. Our spouse isn't our enemy; our children aren't a distraction from something more important. When you choose marriage and parenthood, you are choosing an identity, not a job.

The truth is that my children don't make me happy. They make me vulnerable. They bring out every leak in my character and show me exactly where my personality needs improvement. My husband doesn't make me happy, either. He challenges me to think differently, to be braver than I thought I could be. I am challenged by my new identity to speak life constantly, to be able to give more of myself than I thought I ever could. Because of this, I have joy like crazy - but I'm certainly not happy all of the time.

Now, if you'll excuse me, my two year old thinks I'm the Meanest Mommy because he can't have a drink of my coffee. Yeah, tears in my eyes, too, kid.


  1. great perspective! As a mom with three grown kids in their 20s who are now pursuing their own lives, it's good to remember that our kids may be our biggest headaches AND our biggest blessings, but they will never totally fulfill us inside. Only God can do that. That being said, my kids are amazing and they bring my husband and I the greatest joys in our life on this earth. Seeing them follow after God is fulfilling in a sense that we've done what we were called to do and we know that they will be joining us in eternity.

    1. I really struggled with writing this one. I never wanted it to seem like I was ungrateful in any way for the two little blessings that God has given us. That being said, just because children are a blessing doesn't mean they're not hard. If I had put that pressure on them to make me happy at the same time we'd all be miserable.

      Thanks for reading!