Thursday, September 15, 2011

"I'm happy today, oh yes I'm..."

John Steinbeck once said, "A sad soul can kill you quicker than a germ."  What grabs me most about his quote is the idea of a sad soul.  That is a deep sadness that goes beyond having an unhappy day, or being temporarily depressed about things in life.  A sad soul is a mind-set, an outlook on life, or maybe a permanent habit of looking at the world through a glass that's always half empty.  It's seeing the ray of darkness in a field of light.  It's seeing a world of people with specks in their eye, and assuming it's just camouflage for the planks that must be there.
A sad soul is sitting in the critics seat and never feeling any responsibility to commend others, be constructive, or contribute to any one's joy.  A sad soul is basically a selfish soul.  Yes, there are exceptions, but we've all known the secret to happiness most our lives.  Happiness comes from making others happy.  The sad soul is sitting back waiting for someone to do that for them, but it won't be enough, and it won't change a thing.  The more we focus on ourselves and dwell on what we need or what we don't have, the more we wallow in self pity and sorrow.
When those thousands of people journeyed out from their towns and cities to listen to the new prophet from Nazareth, they were poor people.  They had no transportation, no food, and time from work was time not making a living.  But they were seekers, and they hoped the new prophet named Jesus would show them how to draw closer to God.  What he gave them - right out of the bag - was what we call the Beatitudes.  A really strange way to begin a lesson.  And contrary to what we've always said about "blessed" being another word for happy, and that they would be happy if they had these spiritual attitudes, he was telling them that God understood their hearts and their deep desire to seek Him.  Each Beatitudes was a promise that God knows and would bless everything they were doing to seek him.  They were poor in spirit, mourning, meek, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, and persecuted on their journey, but they should "Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven."  Jesus was telling them that their souls where in good hands and that is a reason to smile from the heart!
Often, a sad soul is not a victim of hardships or tragic circumstances, but someone who has never discovered that real living is found in unselfish giving and, more than anything else, being at peace with our God and Father.

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