I love having adventures. I love travelling. I love those moments when you create crazy, fun memories; stories you’ll be telling your grandchildren. I love discovering new and cute little places: tea shops and restaurants, walks and little ‘old man’ pubs with roaring fires. I love laughing so much it hurts. I love occasionally buying little treats for myself: clothes and pretty things. I love making my house a home, decorating and making it look pretty.
Now read that back and replace ‘I love’ with ‘I’m addicted to’.
There is a massive difference between enjoying things like these and needing them and I’m on a steep learning curve to discovering what that is. Whenever life is vibrant, colourful – full of excitement and adventure – I feel content. But in striving after these things I’ve lost the ability to be content in normality; in the day-to-day and the mundane.
And I wonder if a lot of our culture hasn’t become about reaching a bar that we can’t possibly reach. I wonder if we’ve screwed ourselves over to be able to find real happiness.
Mine is the generation that was told ‘you can do anything you want to, you can be anything you want to be’. I definitely heard this message, and the result is that anything short of a dream job isn’t good enough.
Mine is also the generation that lives for the weekend. Life is about going out in the evening, dancing and having a mental time. We need drink and drugs to achieve the amount of fun we want to have because it is naturally unattainable; the bar is too high. This kind of happiness is dependent on having money, having friends who are free and being young enough to get away with going out.
Mine is the generation that was told by the Church: God will do amazing things through you. You can change the world. Maybe, but the pressure is mounting.
Life has become a tick-list of achievements that claim to offer happiness. Pass your exams, go to college, have adventures, land dream job, get married, have children, maintain a life that is both exciting and yet makes a positive difference to the world.
My experience is that all of this is complete crap. Happiness is possible, but only if you’re really lucky and hit some pretty difficult targets. Even if you do hit them, they probably don’t offer what they claim to and you’ll be looking for the next ‘hit’. It results in crippling anxiety and way too much pressure.
Happiness can and should be found in the normality of life. I think that when we lower the bar, when we free ourselves of pressure and targets, we might find ourselves naturally doing more and living bigger. Christians: God can do amazing things through you. But He may do this in a way that looks very unglamorous to the world, and He may even do this in a way that means you don’t see results of His work in this lifetime.
This is something I wrote. It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but this is me being realistic, and I feel so much better for it:
I don’t want the perfect life anymore, I’m not going to reach my ‘potential’. I don’t need every day to be ‘Kingdom shaking’, to have the perfect family and to still be flourishing in a dream job as well. My family life will be messy.
I’m not going to be a thin exercise-lover. I’m not going to look good all of the time. I’m going to have a post-pregnancy body, I’m going to have rubbish hair days (weeks).
I’m not going to be a Pinterest mum…. an amazing baker, artsy type who makes having children look cool.
I’m not going to single-handedly transform the Church or give the world’s best talk. I’m not going to be the perfect wife/daughter/mum/sister/friend.
But I am going to love God, my husband, my friends and family the best that I can. I am going to spend time with them. I am going to let myself look weak in front of others. To invite them in when the house is messy, to burn the food and to laugh at myself. I am going to be my own person.
And I’m going to stumble across adventures, memories, excitement and new places along the way; not striving towards them but letting them surprise.
(picture via sxc.hu)