- Holly Eaton
Who Do You Turn to as Your Source of Happiness?
When I was growing up with my two older sisters, my Mom sewed many of our dresses and enjoyed seeing her daughters looking clean and pretty. She taught us manners and proper English. She loved us well and gained a sense of pride in our good behaviors and appearance. When we excelled, she beamed. When we failed, she was ashamed. In the 50s and 60s, it was probably the norm, albeit a dysfunctional one. In these decades, we call it "co-dependency." Whenever an adult's sense of wellbeing depends on the behaviors of any other person, that's a clue that what you have there is an unhealthy relationship. And more importantly, it's idolatry -- putting someone or something else in the place where God should be.
Don't get me wrong; I loved my Mom and am now more grateful than ever that she gave up so much of her life on my behalf. She took such good care of me, and I know that she loved me. That's a gift that keeps on giving. Besides, now that I'm an adult, I appreciate knowing how to use proper English and how to look and function in public in appropriate ways. Those things come in handy! Over time, though, I have come to realize that we three daughters were not only the object of my Mother's deep love, but we were the source of much of her self-worth and happiness. That might sound like a good thing, but kids were never designed by God to be the source of anyone's happiness or self-esteem. Kids, at BEST, are resources, and at least, needy little creatures in whom a parent pours massive amounts of time, energy, nurture, and a whole lot more. But God designed parents to teach and model for children total dependency upon God as their Source. God designed adults to receive all of what makes us truly okay from HIM alone. He is the Source of everything we need. Everything and everyone else that is good and meaningful in our lives are only resources, gifts to us from Him who is the Source.
Now, as the Mother of four grown daughters, I realize how much influence my Mom's values had on me, and how important I felt it was for me to teach my own kids (and now my grandchildren) how to use the English language properly and how to treat others with respect by being polite to them. I know it will benefit them in the future. All that is well and good, as long as it is for their benefit, rather than being the source of my feeling like my worth is dependent upon their performance. My daughters and grandkids are delightful; I adore them. AND they aren't what make me okay. The love and acceptance I receive from them and from other family members and friends is uplifting and enjoyable, but it can never become the source of my self-esteem.
During this season of family reunions and gift giving, of money spending and socializing, of stress and pleasure, what are you turning to as the source of your happiness? A sparkling clean home with gorgeous decorations? A credit card that allows you to spend now and pay later? A job that provides enough money to live comfortably? Influential friends who think highly of you? The love of family members? A good reputation in your community? Marital bliss? If you happen to actually have any of these things, consider yourself richly gifted, in a position to reach out to others who are not in similar circumstances. But please do not treat these resources as if they have the power to make you special. They do NOT. Only God has the power to do that.
If you find yourself in want of these things, please take those thoughts captive to Christ and ask Him what good and perfect plan He has for you. Know in the depths of your knower that God has already made available to you every single thing that you actually need. He is the Source of all love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. He makes the sun rise and waters the earth to produce food. He, alone, is the Source of Life, both here and in eternity. Thank Him for being your perfect Source, and for providing all the resources that you will ever need. Most especially, that baby in the manger who grew up to meet all your needs, now and forever, the Source of forgiveness and forever life -- Jesus Christ.
God bless us, everyone!
Clinical Christian Counselor
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