Being happy is important. Happy in that we are content and satisfied, not happy as in “we have everything we want.” There will never come a time when you have everything you want.
As a young military wife, I longed to buy our first home. As we moved stations, we got military housing or a new apartment, each a blank slate. I learned quickly that “home” was where we were all together. Our couches, pictures and things might look differently or be staged a little differently, but each house held our family and our things.
That didn’t keep me from constantly wanting a house. In my head, a forever house was the place where we would raise our babies. Where we would measure their height on the doorframe and then one day point those marks out to our grandchildren. It was where we would put in flowers and a yard. Paint the walls. (I had a thing about paint because in military housing and most apartments you aren’t allowed to paint the walls.) My heart wanted happy walls with bold and bright colors.
I was too busy raising kids and being a wife to really examine why the idea of a house was so important to me. I began to hold the “first house” thing as a lofty goal to which everything else was pointed. I was convinced that we would be happy once we got it.
I turned 30 the day we signed the papers on our first house. This was after my husband left the military and we embraced civilian life. We were never looking back. We walked into that empty house and fell in love with its new-ness. The dark walls, the unfinished yard. While no one had ever measured a kid against a door frame, the house was ours and it was brand new.
Then reality began to set in. That immediate feeling of euphoria went away after a couple of days. We were sitting down making a list of things we needed for the new house: blinds, grass, sprinklers, furniture, flowers. It was overwhelming and I didn’t notice that my happy goal was beginning to stretch. I would begin to pepper my goals with stages of completion.
“I’ll be happy once we get those blinds put up so the neighbors can’t see into our house … I’ll be happy once we get a dining room happy to eat at … I’ll be happy once we get a fence up so I don’t worry about the littles in the yard ... I’ll be happy once we get our sprinklers in and order grass.” It goes on and on.
God laid it on my heart one day that I was wrapping my happy up in something that could never, ever make me happy. That house was a thing. I pushed back at that idea, it was surely more important than that. We yearned for years for that thing. We prayed so hard. Yet I still wasn’t happy.
Six months later, just as we put a deck on that first house of ours, our family was uprooted. We would move to another state for work and watch that house become someone else’s. I packed our things with a heavy heart because I was facing the reality that the house wasn’t the answer.
Later I would realize that I was searching for comfort and stability. I was setting my eyes on the things of this world to provide that rather than relying on God’s grace. I was keeping myself so busy with the “where” that I wasn’t looking at the “why.”
We would go on to have a few homes in a few states. Now we look at the next house as an adventure, what we haven’t had. One day, maybe I’ll end up with a forever house, but I don’t need to keep chasing that happy goal because I have what I need.
Can we be so focused on things and goals that we miss the mark of what happy truly is? Yes, I know we can. Seeking happy can breed a selfishness in us that can cause us to step off the path God has for us. Don’t chase happy. Chase God.
— Kalynn Brazeal is a conservative, Christian wife/mom/country girl carrying around an MBA, several decades of business experience and a strong opinion. Now living in the remoteness of North Dakota, she continues to share her column on life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and cake. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.