It is in our human condition to go through life searching for one thing. We spend endless hours in an effort to be part of the crowd, to get the cute guy or girl, to be the best on the team- for what we believe is joy. We’re living as if life is one big maze in a search for happiness. We want to be happy, and no matter where we run to find it, this desire cannot be completely satisfied...Maybe it is because we are looking in the wrong places.
We have felt joy before. We have felt joy when we won that award, when we aced that test, when our team won the big game, after that awesome date, and after a day spent with a group of friends. These are good things, and they are good for us. But, they are not a true source of joy, as they are short term. We keep trying to fill a void that’s within us. How can we keep this void filled?
To truly be happy, we need to give up our sin and immerse ourselves in Christ’ love and joy. This means letting go of an addiction that gives us short time pleasure. This means cutting off that sin that you can’t seem to get rid of. This means running to the confessional and letting go of the darkest part of ourselves. This means not allowing ourselves to fall back into sin. Falling back into sin, and letting it consume us is like running around the same section of the maze over and over again- no progression, no freedom, no joy
We don’t need to give in to the short time pleasure, the temptation, or the peer pressure. Ask Christ to give you the strength to overcome sin. We need to pick up our cross and follow Him. If you fall, get back up and continue in your journey with Christ. God sees our intentions and will bless us for them.
Start chasing Christ wholeheartedly and stop making things of this world another God. “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money, (Matthew 6:24.)”
We can only find eternal happiness in God and following His will. This can be the most difficult thing to do because it might mean having to let go of our own passions and desires. Sometimes fulfilling God’s will means letting go of a friendship that might be dear to you, letting go of an addictive, toxic relationship, or a long time dream. Sometimes this means moving on from a huge part of your life, or literally leaving behind everything, and following Christ.
We are not going to find true happiness in this world because we were not created for this world. We want to believe that what the media tells us is happiness: fame, fortune, materials, and short term pleasures such as sex, drugs, alcohol use, partying, pornography, etc. The reality is: these “bits of joy” are tearing us apart inside and keeping us further from the true source of joy- Jesus Christ.
I’m not saying that life will be easier following Christ. Life will always have it’s sacrifices and sufferings. The difference is, when we are following Christ and submitting to His will, He will give us strength to overcome those hardships.
We need the willingness to submit to God’s will. We may have an exact idea of what we want out of life, and God might have something completely different planned. He may force us out of our comfort zone. He may force us out of our narrow set of goals and aspirations, but submitting to God’s will is the only way we will find true joy. When it comes to God’s plan for us, Christ knows what we want, but gives us what we need.
Did you know that God gave us a list of ways to be happy? Some bibles title the section of the Beatitudes as “True Happiness.” Jesus gave us a list of steps to be happy, to be filled with His joy. This makes sense as Jesus started each line of the beatitudes with “Blessed, ” and blessed is a synonym for the word happy. The Catechism of the Catholic Church refers to about the natural desire for happiness and Christ as the true source of joy.
II. THE DESIRE FOR HAPPINESS (from the Catechism of the Catholic Church):
1718 "The Beatitudes respond to the natural desire for happiness. This desire is of divine origin: God has placed it in the human heart in order to draw man to the One who alone can fulfill it:
....Since in seeking you, my God, I seek a happy life, let me seek you so that my soul may live, for my body draws life from my soul and my soul draws life from you.
God alone satisfies."
In order to obtain true joy on earth we must be submitted fully to Christ. The famous branch and vine passage is from the Gospel of John. I recommend you to read 1 John 15:1-11 for a true understanding of this. It is important to recall that “He breaks off every branch in me that does not bear fruit.” In following Christ’ will, Christ cuts the bad out of our life. In following Christ’ will virtues and spiritual gifts grow, “In the same way you cannot bear fruit unless you remain in me.” We remain in Christ by avoiding sin, praying, and growing in faith.
An essential part of this passage is when He says “If you obey my commands you will obey in my love….I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” Complete, true joy comes from loving Christ whole-heartedly and keeping His commandments. We need to understand, when we follow His Commandments and the teachings of the Church, we are as close to the Father than we can ever be. We are closest to legitimate happiness than we can ever be. No, not the type of happiness taught by the media and found within society, but true happiness that we don’t have to constantly go searching for. It is not short time pleasures, or a day with a friend that can make you happy. Jesus is the true source of joy. In our loneliness, in our broken situations, in our failure, we can still experience joy, but only through Christ. He can give us the strength to overcome these hardships, if we ask in His name.
Christ is able to break our chains of sin so we can fully immerse ourselves in His joy. Even in hardship, we must remain in His love, keep His commandments and follow His will. Then, not only will we reach true happiness on earth, but eternal happiness in heaven.
God wants us to live a life of joy. God wants us to live a life that is pleasing to Him. God wants us to live a life for Him and in Him.
As Pope John II said, “People are made for happiness rightly, then you thirst for happiness. Christ has the answer to this desire of yours, but He asks for you to trust him.”
May we trust in the Lord with all our soul as we strive to follow His will, only then will we obtain true joy.