I’m Happy that You’re Doing Well
It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. 2 John 1:4
It’s in my nature to desire joy, satisfaction, and happiness. My life problem though, has been that I usually settle for instant gratification (immediate pleasure) over delayed gratification (authentic joy). And the two – instant and delayed gratification – are mutually exclusive. I can’t have both. For instance, I may want to be in shape tomorrow because that would bring me joy, but I often settle for the gratification found in a donut today. Choosing one precludes the other. Chasing satisfaction in my right now appetite is exactly what led me to my drug addiction. It was a severe example, but it illustrates that instant gratification usually breeds addictive behavior with some terrible price to pay later.
In recovery now, it’s not that I’ve had to surrender my search for joy, satisfaction, and happiness. It’s simply that I’ve had to learn to do it in the right way – to find those things in the right place. It’s not wrong that I want to be happy. I go wrong in how I try to find happiness. Now, I must daily make the effort or consciously choose to find joy, not in my appetite, but in abandoning my appetite to follow God’s will for me. For instance, I now find tremendous joy in helping others find faith and recovery. Working in addiction, I see a lot of failure, but there’s also profound happiness when someone does well.
This seems to be what John expressed in today’s passage. In it, he told his audience that he was full of joy for their success. John had purposefully invested in their lives and when they did well, living just as the Father commanded, he rejoiced with them. This was John’s life purpose – to lead others to faith – and so this life goal drove his behavior, bringing him joy, satisfaction, and happiness.
This doesn’t happen by accident though. If we simply do nothing purposefully, it’s our nature to seek out satisfaction in our right now appetite. It isn’t natural to sacrifice and train for a marathon right now. Rather, it’s natural to sit on the couch and eat donuts right now. To find authentic joy, we must make daily choices to surrender our right now will for God’s will, making sacrifices up front so that we may experience delayed gratification and joy later. We all want joy, satisfaction, and happiness. That’s not wrong. We must simply learn – and then choose – to find those things the right way.