We All Want Happiness
Men, many of us are being led astray. We all want happiness. But not everyone seems to know where to find it. What’s more, I suspect many of us who think we have it are blind to the possibility that what we have pales in comparison to the real thing.
With the attention sexual misconduct is getting in the media, it is easy to point the finger at ‘those guys’ out there who have done some obviously terrible things. But I want to call attention to all of us, what we might be doing in pursuit of happiness that is equally off the mark. That’s what ‘those guys’ were doing anyway, isn’t it? Pursuing happiness in the way that they knew how, the way that they desired.
So the question becomes, how do each of us pursue happiness?
And how does this manifest itself to those around us?
For example, a group of regular guys get together for an evening away from their daily grind. Beers, conversation, some sort of entertainment – watching the game, having a cookout, whatever. These guys are, on the surface, pretty happy. Spirits are high, small talk is jovial, and the joking abounds. But listen closely to the topics of the jokes, and the spirit of the conversations and there is something not quite right. The jokes are, by in large, sexual in nature.
Now how do we gauge whether that’s ‘ok’?
By what standard am I referring to when I say something is not quite right?
Made To Love
We are made to love. And to love is to will the good of another (Aquinas). When we, as guys, are bringing sexuality into our jovial small talk and jest, I ask all of us to consider whether we are “willing the good of another” in what we’re saying. If our wives were to hear themselves being the topic of sexual jokes at guys’ night, how do we think they would feel: more loved or less loved? And when we ask this question to ourselves, how does the answer we give make us feel? Are we indifferent? Are we offended that I even pose the question? After all, what does it matter how we talk about our wives – or women in general – when they are not around? Right?
Reflection of our Hearts
How we talk about women, especially our wives, is a reflection of the state of our heart. And if we think we are finding happiness in cracking sexual jokes all basically implying that life is nothing more than finding pleasure when one wants it, then we have a serious misunderstanding of where happiness lies.
Our creator wants us to be happy. He made us for himself. And since he is infinte joy, infinite beauty, infinite pleasure, nothing short of him will even come close to the happiness we will experience when we are in total union with God. So to begin our journey to ultimate happiness – total union with God – here on earth, Jesus tells us to live like God now. Real, lasting happiness is found when we live like God lives: indifferent self-giving.
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
I challenge each one of us to put Jesus’ teaching (live like God lives) to the test. Try treating your wife as more important than yourself in every single aspect of your marriage. Will her good as more than your own. Do this and see what happens. Lorelei and I always had a decent marriage, but then I took the challenge; I tested out how much happiness really does lie in willing the good of the other. I put to the test the claim that I was made to love.
The results were breathtaking.
When I started to will Lorelei’s good more than my own in every area of our marriage our marriage went from decent to phenomenal. The more I willed her good, the more I found she willed mine. The more I gave to her, the more she gave to me. It was like resonant feedback from a microphone in front of a speaker, only instead of a harsh noise, it was a beautiful sound, the type you wish would never end. Synergy. 1 + 1 = 3. That kind of result.
Men, it is my firm belief that we will be most happy when we live like our infinitely loving creator – in indifferent self-gift to all those around us. Put this to the test and tell someone you know how it goes. If you experience what I did, I predict our small talk will take on a different tone.