I’ve spent a lot of my life pursuing happiness: What I want. What I need. What I think is important. I’ve spent a lot of time pursuing pleasure and fleeing pain. Trying to live the dream.
Much of that time, I’ve even duped myself into thinking that it was God’s will I was following, rather than the much more mundane tug of my own ego.
Yet the emptiness remains. Even when I’ve gotten what I wanted, it’s never been enough. I’ve never been able to satisfy the hunger that gnaws at my soul. I’ve never found that buried treasure, hidden in a field. After all this time, I’m still chasing after mere satisfaction.
I am convinced that there is something beyond happiness – a reality that doesn’t even register on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It’s that something more, beyond self-actualization, that invites me back to the bottom of the pyramid, to abandon happiness in favor of reckless joy. To live without fear, even if it seems crazy to everyone – including me.
There is a way beyond satisfaction. There is a path beyond the codependency to consumer capitalism that so defines life in modern civilization. It’s found in the cross of Jesus, in the broken-open community that comes into being on the margins, when we’ve got nothing left to lose. That’s where I want to live, even though it scares me.
To get there, I need the spirit of Jesus to live in me. It’s a spirit without fear, that holds nothing back. It takes no consideration for tomorrow when there is joy and justice to be experienced today. It forgets the self when there is love to be shown to another. This is the spirit that sells everything and buys the pearl of great price; it is the mustard seed that starts out so small, but grows into a plant that takes over the whole garden.
Happiness is just a faint glimmer of the real joy that is available to each one of us if we’re willing to pay the price. Do you have the courage? I want to.