Friday, December 2, 2016

The (Passive) Pursuit of Happiness

I'm not happy.

I don't expect my religion to make me happy, either. That isn't the purpose of religion.

C.S. Lewis wrote once that he didn't become a Christian to become happy -- he always knew a bottle of Port would do that much for him. I can appreciate the sentiment. I know what will make me happy. Sex makes me happy. Being drunk makes me happy. Getting high off pills makes me happy. There are some things that make me happy. God isn't one of them.

But still, sex and drugs and drunkenness are things I've sworn off in order to form a right relationship with God. (Well, except that I still get pretty drunk on occasion. Whoops.) Because I love God, and that's what he expects from me. Not because he needs me to be a certain way. He doesn't need anything. He only wants what's best for me. And right now, what's best for me does not include my happiness.

It's hard. Most of my friends are doing things "the wrong way." I'm not saying that in judgment of them. It's more of a mental contrast I have. I try so hard to do things "the right way," the chaste way, the sober way. Plenty of my friends live with their significant others. Plenty of my friends have sex outside of marriage. Plenty of my friends regularly drink too much and party too hard and get too high and don't have a care in the world to show for it, it seems. I can't help but notice. And that's hard.

In every chastity talk I've ever heard, in every Come To Jesus testimony I've ever listened to, doing things the right way is supposed to make me happy. But it doesn't. And I'm not really afraid to say that; not anymore, anyway. I used to be. I used to be so afraid of contaminating my own witness to the Truth by telling the truth. That's dangerous. Jesus doesn't want us to lie for him. The truth is, I have given up a lot of things that made me happy for the Truth, and in turn, have sacrificed a lot of my own happiness. I have to learn how to be okay with that.

People tell me all the tired cliches: don't compare your life to others', don't expect so much out of life, don't do this, don't do that. Okay.

So I don't. Instead of looking at other people's lives, I try to take some time to look at mine, which looks nothing like I wanted it to look when I got to be the age I am now. And I'm not happy.

So I choose to expect nothing out of life. Which, by the way, is depressing. And I'm not happy. I offer a Rosary every day. I go to Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation. I'm consecrated to Mary. I have a devotion to the Divine Mercy. I go to confession nearly every other week, if not every week. I am careful not to use God's name in vain. I don't have sex with my boyfriend. I don't live with him. I don't do drugs. I don't drink to excess except on the rare occasion that I forget to pace myself at a holiday party or other type of gathering. I try to be a good Catholic. I try hard.

And I'm not happy.

I am quite certain I am where God wants me to be in life right now. I think I'm observing his will. And I'm not happy. The tug-of-war that creates in my prayer life is between me and God, but most things are. I love him. I want to be his and be with him forever. I trust him, even when I don't feel like I do.

Maybe someday I'll be happy. I don't know. Maybe someday, I will feel the glorious delight of contentment and be okay.

For now, I'm not happy. God be praised in all things.