I love a happy and peaceful environment. I love to have those around me to be upbeat, happy, and content. If everyone around me is motivated and “getting ‘er done” and excited about life, that really makes for a great day for me.
On the later part of the Front 9, in my early forties, I discovered a truth that I wished I had discovered much earlier in life. Here it is…”I am not responsible for another’s happiness!” Somehow I let the enemy deceive me in my desire to see others “happy and thriving”. I took my God-given spiritual gift of encouragement and allowed it to become distorted and twisted in my mind. I became convinced that I was in control of and responsible for other people’s happiness. Translated to mean, when you break it down, I could be God in someone’s life and be in control of meeting their needs to the point that their happiness rested on my shoulders.
It makes me think of Ecclesiastes 4:8, “There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. ‘For whom am I toiling,’ he asked, ‘and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?’ This too is meaningless—a miserable business!” Endless toiling and miserable!
What I have learned is this: another’s happiness, contentment, peace, and joy do not come from me. Ultimately, those things come from having a relationship with Christ who, in the darkest of times or the best of times, can be your light…your strength…your comfort…your reassurance…your ultimate source for a life of significance. Many times God allows us to get to a place that He is all you have in order to show you that HE IS ALL YOU NEED. Trying to save someone from being in that place can interfere with God’s plan. God may want that person to be able to say as Paul did in Philippians 3:11, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” We don’t know all God has planned for that person.
All of us are human. We are going to experience pain, trials, and personal challenges in our lives…but too often, our need to see others be happy can bleed over into a distorted picture of what our role is in the lives of others, including our family. When things don’t go our way…and we are having a bad day…we all can be quick to complain or make excuses. We can even allow, or expect, someone else to assume what should be our responsibility for our own happiness and contentment.
When I did the study of Moses in BSF (Bible study Fellowship), I realized we are just like the Israelites. When Moses was leading the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt, they experienced God’s parting of the Red Sea as they were being pursued by Pharaoh’s army. Keep in mind, they had lived a horrible life of slavery while in Egypt. They experienced a “pillar of fire by night to guide them” and a “cloud by day”. They experienced God sending “manna from heaven that fell out of the sky” when they complained about not having meat.
Yet, over and over again, they became discontented.
Over and over again, God provided.
NO wonder they wandered in the “wilderness for 40 years!”
Our human nature, lived apart from God and our eyes on others, can lead to…unhappiness…discontentment…looking to others to provide us with things that we should be looking to God for. God is the ULTIMATE NEED MEETER. Of course, God has given us commands in Scripture to love others, to encourage others and to help and extend a hand to others….but it is not, nor has it ever been, our responsibility to be the “happiness of others!” This can become murky and difficult waters when trying to distinguish our part in other people’s lives if, we are not in an intimate relationship with Christ, or reading His Word or allowing Him to direct our paths.
As a mother…it has been very difficult to see our children to be hurt and unhappy at times. As a spouse, it can be just as difficult. Your desire is for your spouse to be happy and thrive. Often times, out of our love, we want to make things better…take it into our hands. But, often, trying to take it completely into our hands, being the other’s “happiness” can circumvent, or delay, what God is seeking to teach the person who finds themselves in circumstances that don’t make them happy.
That is when…God truly can become–our everything. Seeking Him in our unhappiness and discontentment can direct our eyes onto Him. It is there where the “well will never run dry”. His helicopter view can lead us! None of us, no human, can possibly take us, nor lead us to the places that God can. Of course, we can seek sound advice and wisdom from others…but those people have to be secondary…taking a backseat to God.
On the flip side of this…if you are the one feeling responsible for and taking “control” of what should be the responsibility of another, it can lead to your own lack of peace and joy and happiness. Why? Your joy is not coming from God. It is resting on the attitudes and emotions of others. If the other person isn’t happy, you end up not being happy. Vicious cycle. Your eyes are on “man” and not God. This is such a slippery, dangerous slope that leads to complete DARKNESS!
Advice…”Drop you hands!” when it comes to taking personal responsibility for other people’s happiness! It is not your job. This may not be an issue for you. If not, that is great…absolutely wonderful. Since I have become aware of it in my own life, and received God’s correction and course correction for my role in the lives of others, I have had to discipline myself to “drop my hands” in the area of other people’s happiness and changing emotions. It is so freeing that I feel compelled to share what God has taught me. I truly desire that freedom for everyone. If there is one person being deceived, I want them to “KNOW TRUTH”…God’s truth.
Encourage, pray for, offer a listening ear, offer advice to the unhappy person, if asked. Be warned. Unsolicited advice is often taken as a criticism so be careful. Most importantly, be responsible before God for your life, your outlook, your attitude and your actions and fulfilling His call and plan for your life. At the end of your life the only “scorecard” you are gonna sign is yours! No one is going to be standing beside you in front of a Holy God pleading your case. It’s just you and God.
Take a look at Romans 14:11-12, “It is written: ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’ So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.” We are responsible for our lives. We will be held accountable. Don’t own someone else’s bad day or blame others or misappropriate your responsibility …allowing it to permeate and affect God’s plan for your day, week, month, year, etc.
Pick up and look at your own scorecard… the SHOTS you are making……..your choices, your attitudes, your circumstances, your outlook..….and filter it through God’s fingers. Study Scripture and its direction and instructions for your life. It is there that, while every day may not be the happiest, you can still experience JOY…Peace…CONTENTMENT…and lead a very “Significant life!”