Monday, April 03, 2006

Okay, okay, I get the point.

I don't know if it's this way for you, but there are times when I think God goes out of His holy way to hammer home a point to me, usually when I'm being especially hard-headed. This weekend was one such time.

I spent most of the weekend with the family. On Saturday, I was going to lunch with mom and sister. Conversation drifted. Finally, somehow I end up on how I'm not completely satisfied with my job right now. Typical Dave-whine. Not the dream job, but I know I shouldn't complain, blah blah blah.

And my sweet mother just lets me having with both barrels. She told me to basically suck it up. I'm not going to like my job all the time, and I should just accept that. She says that she hates her job sometimes, but she seeks out happiness in the small things, and it gets her through. She told me that my "melancholy act" is getting old, and that I basically need to buck the hell up. But she didn't use "hell." Not this time. She's been known to use it in the past. Among other things. My mother is fun.

So I was pretty much scolded and silenced. I pouted for a little while and then thought that she may have a point.

Then yesterday, while at my Financial Peace class, the speaker on the video (Dave Ramsey) started saying something that was really familiar and convicting at the same time. I could transcribe it from the CD (if I had remembered to bring it) but instead I will paraphrase and comment.

He said that this whole "happiness" thing starts on the schoolyard. You're in kindergarden, and you think, "I'll be happy in first grade, when I learn how to read." Then in first grade, there's these things called sixth graders, and you think "I'll be happy when I'm in sixth grade and I'm not getting picked on." Then in sixth grade, you learn about high schoolers, and you think, "I'll be happy when I'm in high school, and I don't get picked on." Then when you start high school, someone says they just got their driver's license, and you think, "I'll be happy when I can drive, and have that freedom." Then you get your drivers license, and someone's brother or sister comes back home and says, "Wow, college is so awesome. No one hassles you as much, and you're your own boss." Then you think, "Man, I'll be happy in college, when the parents don't hassle me, and I can set my own hours, and I can do what I want." Then you get to college ("where you have the net worth of half a bottle of No Doz," Ramsey quips), and you're suffering through all-nighters and research papers, and you think, "I'll be happy when I graduated and get out into the real world."

[Here's where it gets especially familiar.] Then you get that first job, and it's great for a while, but you end up getting fired. Then you think, "Man, I'll be happy once I get some security."

Then he went on to talk about having kids, then the kids leaving and having grandkids, and how this happiness keeps eluding our grasp. (He could have thrown in that extra step after the job thing of, "Man, I'll be happy once I get married" to pull the grand slam.)

Then he said, "See, happiness is that schoolyard bully drawing lines in the sand, daring you to cross. When you do, he draws another one, and then another. When you put your happiness in stuff or in situations, it's always gonna be out of your reach."

Oof. Wow. Yeah.

Okay, Father, I get the point. Choose happy. Don't wait for "happy" to happen.

I remember, growing up, all the churchy folk would say, "Happiness depends on what happens. Joy is what you choose to have despite your circumstances." And that's true. But even though I get their logic (and attempted wordplay), I think you choose happiness, also.

Another Ramsey quote was that the immature mind confuses happiness with fun. (Guilty.) Immature adults expect their jobs to always be fun, and are put out when the jobs turn into (gasp) jobs. But mature minds choose happy even when the job is not fun. Partly because the un-fun job helps provide the fun later.

It's all about delayed gratification. Self-control. Being a grown-up instead of a whiny baby-boy.

So yeah. Loud and clear, God.

Now, if you all will excuse me, I'm going to get back to work...and be happy about it.

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