Do What Makes You Happy
We all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. Ephesians 2:3
Paradoxically, all my self-inflicted misery in life has come simply from following my own desires. At the time I truly thought I was doing what I wanted. I understood that seeking my will would bring me pleasure, happiness, and gratification, and to be honest, it did – for a while. In the end though, all I brought upon myself was pain and destruction. In recovery now, I still struggle with this and I’m still learning, but I’ve found that my first impulse towards what would make me happy is usually wrong. I’ve learned that to find authentic joy and lasting peace, I must often forego the immediate gratification. Eating a donut makes me feel good right now, but bad later. Not eating the donut means some sacrifice now, but peace later.
This is a problem for a lot of us. We were created to experience peace, joy, and fulfillment. It’s not wrong to want those things. The problem for most of us, is that we seek them in the wrong places. This doesn’t have to be about drugs or illicit sex – though those may be obvious examples. This can be about any self-gratifying desire or appetite. The reality is, we often get happiness all wrong. We think we know what would truly satisfy us, but we try to find it in seeking immediate gratification. For instance, at the beginning of a romantic relationship, that infatuation which we call love often doesn’t mean we actually love the other person. It simply means that we love how they make us feel. Infatuation of course, eventually fades, often leaving pain and destruction in its wake.
In today’s passage, Paul insisted that we all do this. We all, by nature, have followed our own impulsive plans, desires, and appetites. In doing so, we’ve followed ourselves above God, turning us away from him.
Doesn’t God want us to be happy? Is following him simply a life of sacrifice and drudgery? No. God made us to seek joy and we’re not wrong in doing so. Again, the problem is in how we seek it. In making a god of our appetite and desires, we make ourselves miserable. It’s only in seeking an authentic relationship with God, putting his will above all, that we’re able to experience the amazing joy and peace for which we were made. We should do what makes us happy, but that means we must continually choose true joy in God over the immediate gratification of our own appetite.