I recently read a blog post by a young mom (Missy Dollahon) entitled, "I Donít Want My Children to be Happy.Ē Well, of course the title is bound to get anyoneís attention. I found myself reading anxiously to discover why this blog posting mom did not want her children to be happy. Was she having a bad day dealing with screaming, obstinate and disobedient children? Was she suffering from a lack of sleep and in desperate need of coffee before she sat down at her keyboard? Were her children hounding her for things she couldnít possibly afford and she had finally had enough?
A quick read through her blog and it is soon apparent that she is not a sadistic or crazed mom and that she has a point, a logical one, and one that we can all learn from. This busy mom of five kids from the Austin Texas area describes happiness this way. "Happiness is fleeting. That means it doesn't last. It's a quick feeling that comes from a funny movie or a heart shaped lollipop or a really good birthday present. It's great. I love to be happy. But happiness is a reaction that is based on our surroundings. And our surroundings are so very rarely under our control. Even, when - especially when - we think they are.Ē In contrast to happiness the most important thing that she lists she wants for her children is contentment.
Whereas happiness comes from our environment and surroundings our moment to moment interactions - contentment on the other hand comes from within. Happiness is fleeting and can come and go at a momentís notice but true contentment stays with you. Contentment is learning to live being thankful for what you do have instead of dwelling on what you donít have.
In the commercialized and market saturated society that we currently live in children and adults are bombarded with messages for the newest and greatest toys, electronics, and clothing. All marketed by flawless, always happy and smiling faces that continually send out a message of instant gratification and perhaps even ultimate happiness. These constant messages make the road to contentment extremely difficult. That is why we need to be deliberate in our own lives and within our families to develop a genuine heart for contentment. The more we are truly thankful and think about the things that we have the less likely we are to be discontented with what we donít have.
Ann Voscamp, a busy homeschooling mother of six and the author of the New York Times bestselling book One Thousand Gifts also recognizes the value of contentment and gratitude for her children. She writes, "When we give thanks, we gain joy. All of us. Because what will the math really matter if they are bitter? If the house is immaculate ó but my attitude a mess? If they can count ó but they donít know how to count all things as joy? If we get the lists done, but have lost happiness in Him? How can any grammar skill outweigh the fact they donít know the language of grace and thanks?Ē
The apostle Paul in the book of 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 verses 16 Ė 18 wrote, "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is Godís will for you in Christ JesusĒ So whatís your thought about true happiness? Perhaps the time has come for realizing that those flawless, always happy and smiling faces in todayís media will never really be able to sell you lasting satisfaction. Perhaps itís time to accept the truth that lasting contentment lies in the heart and comes from a mindset of thankfulness and not from a shiny new box or an exhausted credit card.