April 2, 2010

An Open Door to Happiness

"When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us." ~Helen Keller

I saw this quote on my Facebook page today (posted by the ever inspiring Roz Parker -- you can get to her Facebook page from mine), and just wanted to reuse it (I hope Roz doesn't mind me doing so?) I liked this quote and went out on the Internet to find out what else Miss Keller said over the course of her life. My, what an inspiring person!

I have seen the movie "The Miracle Worker," but never read her actual life story. I really didn't know much about her other than what the movie told us about her life. Her words, however, relay the depth of character she possessed and the inherent nature of a person deeply devoted to God.

This quote rang true with me today, and that is why I felt the pull to repost it on my blog. I see myself in her words. I have done the very same thing, over and over again. I have seen the door close on my happiness and another open up. In fear or doubt, I have chosen instead to look at the closed door. I stand there and look, as if to say, "Why has this door closed on me?" Yet, I know the answer. I know the events that transpired to cause the door to slam shut. Somewhere within me, though, is the intent to see the closed door as not a final shutting down of my previous road to happiness, but rather simply a "temporary" closing of the path. This is not the case, of course.

Over the past eight months, I have seen the door open, the door partially closed, and the door finally shut. I have tried to open it again, but have found it to be locked. I cannot open the door, so I stand there staring at it (thinking that if i peer into it hard enough, it will reopen). The Lord has shown me proof, evidence that convinced me of why the door must be closed to me. I have accepted it, I have tried to move on, but I still long for that door to reopen.

Today, after much prayer and thinking about this quote, the truth came clearly to me. I am standing in the midst of an open door. The door has been open to me for some time, but I haven't walked through it. I have stood at the closed door for so long, that I have lost the ability to see the open one. I know it is there. The Lord and I discuss the various aspects of what will be THROUGH that door. I just forget at times that I must pass through it to actually begin living in this new way.

Today, though, I made my choice. I decided that the door is shut. It is locked and bolted from the other side and I cannot open it. No matter how hard I try, no matter how long I wait, the door will not open from the other side. The reason is quite simple. The person who has locked and bolted the door, desires it to be so. I can knock on the door, I can beat on it, but the door will not come unlocked. It has been decided that it is to remain locked, and therefore, nothing I do will ever change it.

Instead, I must turn around and move through the open door, the door that has been there all along. This door offers hope of happiness, potential opportunities, and much, much more joy. It is a way into a path that is full of shining light. It does not lead into the darkness. It leads me away from this sorrow into some unknown, uncertainty, and potentially other sorrows. Though this is a reality in our lives (the Lord never promised us a life full of only rainbows -- BUT He did promise us a rainbow after every storm), I look into the open doorway and only see bright sunshine and the potential for happiness.

I do not seek happiness, per se. It is not my primary motivation, but it is a driving force. No one chooses to be unhappy (or do they?) No one chooses a life of sorrow (or do they?) No actually says "Forgive me, Lord, but I really do not want the life you are giving to me. I will stick with my miserable, moth-eaten existence and remain down in the muck and the mire?" Or, do they?

I know, I am being facetious (on purpose). In truth, all of us have chosen to remain in a life of unmet expectations, of unfulfilled promises, of unhappy relationships. We have all chosen at various times in life to live in the muck and mire. All of us came up through it (those who are born-again), and some of us have even returned to it after we have been given a hand-up (after accepting Jesus Christ). The muck and the mire, the tried and the true, the old faithful ways have enslaved us all for a time. We have refused to remove the shackles, even after the Lord has set us free. We have refused to leave the prison of our bondage, even after He has bid us welcome and said "you are no longer in bondage."

Yes, even after we have been liberated, been healed, been restored, we have, on occasion, retreated back into the old way, the life of the old man. The old man is comfortable, the old man is predictable; and in times of great uncertainty, we prefer the old man to the new way of life. I know, because I have done this many times. I have actually chosen to remain in a life that was filled with some pretty awful stuff, simply because it was easier to do so, then to step out and move into the new way of life the Lord was calling me towards. I wanted what He offered, I just didn't want to give up my comfort. I wanted to follow Him, but I didn't want to offend anyone (family, friends, even my own pride). I wanted to seek Him fully, be wholly devoted to Him, but I didn't want to make the sacrifice He said I must. In short, I wanted to do what He was asking of me, but I was unwilling to do it because it was full of so much uncertainty.

The Lord has opened a door of opportunity for me. It is full of great potential, but it also has much uncertainty. This is the case with every single door, and if you really accept the truth of the matter, it is the case with every single instance of our life. There is NO CERTAINTY except death. We all will die some day, and for those who follow the Lord, we also know that we will live with Him in eternity. Other than this, there is nothing that is sure, for certain, or always 100% perfect.

The Lord is perfect, for sure, but I am talking about life and opportunities. I am also talking about sorrows. There is no guarantee that once you let go of the old man, embrace the Lord Jesus Christ, that you will never suffer sorrow. Oh contra-re, you will indeed suffer much sorrow. The path the Lord paved for us is fraught with much sorrow and hardship. It is not all primroses. It is filled with thorns, just like the thorns he wore upon His brow. It is full of difficult and hard pathways, just like the road to Golgotha, when He was forced to carry His own cross. Yes, Dear Sister or Brother, the path we all must take as believers is not an easy one. It is one of death, the same death He died for us, we are called to participate and share in. We are to be conformed to His likeness and that doesn't just mean His character. It is means that if we expect to be resurrected with Him, we also must die with Him. To die with Christ means we will live with Him in eternity. Our baptism signifies this death, burial and resurrection; but it also gives us an illustration of what we must physically go through every day of our new lives. We live to die daily. We pick up our cross, just as He did, and march onward to our spiritual Golgotha. We are crucified with Him, daily laying our sins and sinfulness at His feet, and taking up the Grace of His Blessed forgiveness.

There is no trumpet or orchestra, yet. There is no lily field of sweet embrace, yet. There is pain and sorrow and hardship and suffering. There is joy within it all, don't get me wrong. This is the Blessed Mystery of the Gospel, in how we can be united with Him in pain and experience joy in the midst of it. It is the greatest of all gifts, the gift of Faith, and the enduring Spirit to run the race to it's intended finish.

This new way is not easy, though His Grace enables us to walk through with an ability to endure, to succeed, and to eventually triumph just as He did when overcame death. This is our future. This is our way. This is what is to be. Though not pretty, within all the difficulty, there will be great rejoicing, and great empowering of the Holy Spirit. We will endure. We will overcome. We will make it through to the end and receive our reward. The Lord is faithful to reward those who are faithful to Him.

As I ponder this new door of experience, my thoughts are for a moment drawn backward. I am caught in a flashback to a time when I thought I was happy. I only see it as a distant memory. It is no more, just a fuzzy mental image of what I thought happiness really was like. I have experienced true happiness, I know the difference, and in looking backward I don't see happiness. I see loneliness and despair. I see heartache and sorrow. I see so much sadness. I wish it were not the case, but it is clearly what I see. The more I reflect back, the more I see the truth. I see every attempt at making happiness come to pass, but I see the dark reality of a sorrowful life.

The good news is that after having experienced true happiness, I can tell the difference now. I also understand where happiness comes from and that it is not ever of my making. I cannot make myself truly happy. I cannot make anyone else happy. The Lord is the Source of all my joy, He is the fountain of happiness that I seek. In Him, I am content. I am at peace. I am filled with joy. And, I am finally happy.

As I walk through this new open door, I remember this fact. The Lord is my guarantee on happiness. No one, no other person, no thing, can ever fill me with joy like He can. As long as I focus on Him as my internal happiness indicator, I truly will be joyful, no matter what circumstance or situation I face in this life. He is my ALL in ALL and my JOY. My cup over floweth with His Love and His Joy. My fountain is bubbling away all because of His Being Present in my life.

I love you, Lord and I lift my voice to worship you, Oh my soul rejoices.

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