Thursday, March 31, 2011

But you seem so happy...

A few weeks ago we were out to dinner with a friend, and we were talking about religion--a frequent topic of conversation with this particular individual.

Since he is Protestant and Luke and I are Catholic, there is always a lot to talk about, and we enjoy discussing our faiths and challenging each other in a respectful way.

At one point during a lull in the conversation, my friend looked at me and said, "You are a happy person; you've got Luke and Augustine..." I was smiling and nodding in agreement, as he continued, "so how do you explain your fervor for your faith?"

Say what??

He wasn't being at all facetious. "You know, because a lot of people turn to religion because they are unhappy, and they want it to make them happy. But you are already so happy..."


To be honest, it took me a minute to figure out what to say. I had never been asked that question before.

After a brief pause and some rambling, I told him that my fervor for my faith is the result of being radically convicted by the Truth and that it would impossible for me to turn away from my faith without living a lie.

I also told him that I am not always "happy."

And that despite my passion for my faith I am rarely the kind of Christian that I hope to be {which creates a saddness perhaps less obvious to the outside world, but painfully present internally}.

And that all the good and happines in my life comes from God.

He went on to say, "In my church, there is just such an emphasis on being broken."

Hmm again.

As I tried to wrap my head around the disparity my friend was suggesting between being happy and being broken, a few thoughts crossed my mind...

*We are all broken to the extent that we are a fallen human nature in need of a Savior--Christ,

*yet we need not mope around because we DO have that Savior.

*We must not use being "broken" as an excuse for, or to justify, our sins.

*Am I really so prideful that I come across as totally happy and totally unbroken and totally without need for my Savior?? {I realize that is not at all what my friend was suggesting--he was actually complementing my devotion to my faith, despite not "needing" it, but it made me uncomfortable and I couldn't help but wonder if people frequently assume "happy" people are without need of a Savior...and how my "happiness" could be affecting others}.

So how do we find a balance between being happy and being broken?

How do we live authentic lives and show our weaknesses, while at the same time "being all things to all people" and sharing the Gospel joyfully?

How do we share our brokeness with others without glorifying our sin or causing scandel? Is it just as scandelous to be "happy" all the time?!

How ought one display their brokeness? Their happiness?

I don't have the answers to these questions. But please share your thoughts if you do.

For the time being, I am just going to focus on the fact that genuine happniess--true joy found in relationship with the Lord--surely cannot be proud. So I will just work on being more humble and trust the Holy Spirit to work in me, that how others perceive me--whether "happy" or broken--may glorify Him.

...But just for the record: I am broken...and happy!


  1. Hmm, this was quite a conversation!

    I am sorry for my sins, and at times I am overwhelmed by my sinfulness. I am happy because I know God loves me and always welcomes me despite my unfaithful ways. I think we show our brokeness by participating in the Sacraments. We need those Sacraments in order to grow towards holiness, which indicates that we are sinful. Our weekly devotions show our reliance on God. Does that make sense?

  2. I think there is a difference between "happiness" and "joy". I think that happiness can be something fleeting (yay, I have a browine!) but joy is something deeper, that wells from within. True joy is a gift from God, knowing that we are loved by Him beyond our own knowing. Joy understands that we are broken, but that we can strive to become whole by following the Lord with our hearts. Joy knows that we can be sad and can grieve about things in life, like our sins and our own brokenness. I think it's the joy from God that helps us to be happy or cheerful people. The positive attitudes and happiness that we outwardly is often a sign of God's inward grace working in our lives. At least that's how I see things...I think. :-)

  3. Great response!! Wow, I would have been floored by that! I love these comments too :)