Once you stop demanding happiness, and accept what you are as good, you can begin to receive an understanding of what your gifts and usefulness and purpose are.
The Pursuit of Happiness
Tell me if you haven’t heard this one before. From me, specifically.
At the age of 4 I knew I wanted to be a rock star. I tried desperately to put together bands all through my childhood. Everything from rock to pop to hip hop to anything I could do to create music.
At 13 I got my first drum set. At 16 I joined my first rock band. At 21 I released my first album, with several to follow in the few years after.
At 26 I moved to Nashville. And I signed a recording contract at 27.
Duh! Of course I did! I was destined to, right? I mean how much more clear could it have been? I was God’s gift to rock and roll! Finally I was someplace where I would be recognized and would have the access! And now that I had a whole record label machine behind me, who was going to stop me?
Well… the label, first of all. Nothing like signing a recording contract and doing virtually nothing.
And me, second of all. Nothing like sitting there expecting people to do things for me and then wondering why nothing is happening.
In other words, sure – I have the right to pursue happiness. But if I hand over that pursuit to someone else to do it for me, should I be shocked when I find I’m going nowhere?
I believe that everyone deserves to be happy by virtue of being alive at all.
At the same time, however, I don’t believe that “deserving” it means that someone or something has to provide that happiness for you. Nor do you get to demand happiness simply because you “deserve” it.
“Well, I want to be a rock star, but I can’t be, so I’m miserable.”
Who decided you can’t be?
And who decided you should be miserable as a result?
The answer to both of those is: you!
And you’ve come to those conclusions – that you can’t do it and that you’re miserable because you can’t do it – because you’ve given that pursuit to someone or something else to handle for you.
You may want to argue that I’m wrong – you’ve simply given up. If that were true, however, you wouldn’t have said “I want to be a rock star.” You very clearly still want it. After all, you wouldn’t be “miserable” if you couldn’t do it.
I’m not a car mechanic. But I’m not miserable about it. That’s because I don’t want to be a car mechanic. So it’s not really that I can’t. If I wanted to, I’d find a way to.
No, the problem isn’t that you’ve given up. Not really. You still want it.
The problem is that you’ve decided you aren’t going to do the work.
You aren’t going to pursue it.
You’ve convinced yourself that you can’t, so you won’t.
And you’ve convinced yourself that you can’t because, deep down, you feel there’s something wrong with you.
There would have to be, right? I mean, you haven’t found success yet. Certainly not anywhere near the kind you were expecting.
Or, much as I experienced in my own life when I had pretty much given up, you’ve been knocked down, beaten by your failures, frustrated by your lack of development and bogged down by adult responsibilities.
“Can’t” is easier. “Can’t” doesn’t get you hurt so much. It’s also way fewer syllables.
You already know the outcome if you “can’t”. There are no surprises.
This reaction is reasonable and understandable.
But that doesn’t mean you “give up” your pursuit. That doesn’t mean you hand the steering wheel over and pass out in the back seat.
And it doesn’t mean you get to throw up your hands and still demand that happiness. Because you know you would be ecstatic if it all just randomly landed in your lap.
“But the problem is that I can’t sing.”
Who says you can’t? Who says you have to?
And, for crying out loud, have you ever heard of Mick Jagger?
“But I can’t play guitar.”
Who says you can’t? Who says you have to?
Have you ever heard of Meat Loaf?
But you’re making life easier for yourself by not having to do the work.
And, look, no matter how much you might think “letting go and letting God” is what you’re doing, He still expects you to do the work! After all, maybe you’re miserable because you’ve strayed super-duper far away from the purpose God has for you.
If we take my brief little car metaphor: I think of God less as being the driver and more as riding shotgun, guiding you with Google Maps. He illuminates the path. You still have to do the driving.
What this really comes down to is, for whatever reason (again, probably reasonable and understandable) you think you’re not good enough.
Because I know for a fact that you absolutely are!
A Good And Purposeful Gift
The thing is, as much as you might get down on yourself, or believe that you’re missing something, or that something is wrong about how you’re built, or what you are or aren’t capable of – God made you. And God is good.
If God is good, what He makes is good.
So no matter what, what you are is good!
It doesn’t matter if you constantly trip over yourself or say the wrong things [raises hand]. It doesn’t matter if you are awkward in social situations or find adulting ridiculously difficult (that’s me in spades). And it certainly doesn’t matter if you are handicapped, can’t sing or can’t play guitar.
I don’t think I’m a good singer. I don’t think I’m a great guitar player. And I don’t see myself as particularly charismatic or sexy.
Of course, a lot of that is an uncontrollable urge to compare myself to my rock star idols. People like David Bowie, Bono or Michael Hutchence.
I forget, often, that I’m not them – I’m me.
And because God made me, I’m good.
I just have to find and accept that good in me, so that I can be that good tool that God wants in the world.
I have to do this constantly. Me. It’s my work to do, not someone else’s to do for me.
Once you accept what you are as good, you can begin to receive an understanding of what your gifts and usefulness and meaning are. From there, you can consider the gift of your life (because that’s what life is – a gift) as good and purposeful in order to discover new gifts and purpose.
That’s how God made you – to serve a purpose.
(And — GASP! — maybe He has something better in mind for me than “rock star”… How dare He!)
As I’ve said before, by aligning our talents and our passions we can better understand the purpose God has for us.
Without demanding happiness you can find it. But you still have to pursue it.
Not unlike how God pursues you!