Would You Be Able to Describe Your Home as a Happy Place?
The elders of our congregation have given us a list of questions that we should think about prior to our home visits this year. I really think it is a good idea to prepare for the home visits, and on the whole I really enjoyed this 8 page booklet. I like introspection, and this was a good exercise for me! I did, however, wonder at the very first question, “Would you be able to describe your home as a happy place?” What if we answer, “No?” Is that cause for concern? I must admit that I found it interesting that the first question deals with happiness. For my family, I can say that our home is a happy place about 80% of the time, except when the baby is crying in the middle of night, or during the “witching hours” between about 4pm and 7pm when the kids are hungry and tired.
And of course whenever the kids are in time out, or being unruly.
Oh and when my wife and I talk about finances.
Oh and whenever one of us is sick.
So I guess that my home is a happy place about 63% percent of the time. (Are you reading this Br. Ward Elder?) 🙂
The second question, which immediately follows the first is, “What sort of things in your home give evidence that it is truly Christian?” I have no problem with this question as it is a very good question to ponder.
Given the order of the questions, it would seem to be logical that happiness appears to be the most important thing, and that it must be an evidence of a truly Christian home. But since my home is only a “happy” place 63% of the time, does that mean it is not truly Christian?
So I wonder what is meant by the word “happy?” Will my home be necessarily happy if I am suffering from depression, and am thinking suicidal thoughts? Will my wife be happy in that situation? Will I be happy if my child has a disorder and throws tantrums, hits, and breaks things all day long? Will I be happy if I suffer migraines and am unable to work? Should your home be happy if your wife is killed in a car crash and your kids cry themselves to sleep every night? Was Paul happy while he sat in prison? Was Stephen happy as he was stoned to death? Was John happy as he sat isolated on the Island of Patmos? Was Luther happy as he burned to death?
Does my home necessarily need to be a happy place in order to be truly Christian?
What does it mean to be “happy?” The definition of “happy” from the Merriam-Webster dictionary is as follows:
- feeling pleasure and enjoyment because of your life, situation, etc.
- showing or causing feelings of pleasure and enjoyment
- pleased or glad about a particular situation, event, etc.
Would “feeling pleasure and enjoyment” be evidence of being truly Christian? If so, then Joel Osteen must be the most Christian of all the preachers out there. That guy smiles more than he speaks. I don’t know about you, but I certainly get pleasure and enjoyment from video games, hot tubs, Belgian ales, and date nights with my wife…those things make me happy. Mmmm…
Ok, I know that this question is not placed there idly. I know that, because of whom this series of questions was written by; a man whom I respect very much in the faith. So I scratch my head and ponder. I know I could just pick up the phone, or fire off an email and ask what is meant by the question, “Would you consider your home a happy place?” and maybe I will. But first, I will finish this, since it is almost done. 🙂
My assumption is that the writer of the questions is speaking of happiness in the same vein as the Puritans did. That is, happiness = blessedness. Or perhaps the intent of this question is that happiness = joyfulness. Perhaps it is a question to just gauge where the home is at, like a barometer testing the storminess of the home. That gauge would then allow the elders to focus on what is causing the “unhappiness” in the home. If your home is truly unhappy then there is usually an underlying reason, and if the reason is spiritual then it should be addressed by the elders. But I posit that “joy” would be a better word than “happy” to describe a truly Christian home. “Would you describe your home as a joyful place?” Could this be just a matter of semantics? Perhaps, but I will continue.
I mentioned Paul earlier. As he sat in Prison, chained and beaten, I am pretty sure that he was not happy, but he was full of joy. If we look at the book of Philippians, which Paul wrote while in prison, he uses the words “joy,” “rejoice,” and “joyful” sixteen times. Paul is joyful but not because of his circumstances. He is joyful in spite of his circumstances. The definition of happiness we read earlier describes pleasure and enjoyment as coming out of our situation, but joy is from Jesus Christ and despite our situation. In Philippians 1:12-24, Paul tells us that because of his imprisonment, the whole Roman guard, and much of Rome, had been exposed to the gospel message. So he declares, “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice, yes, and I will rejoice.” And while sitting in prison, consumed with grace of Jesus Christ, Paul goes on to encourage the Philippians, and us as well, to have joy in all things, knowing that God strengthens us and supplies all our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
The Bible appears to teach that happiness is transient because it often depends on things like our situation in life, but true joy is eternal because it is based on our relationship with Jesus Christ. So I could say that I am happy because my kids are healthy, but I will rejoice even if they have cancer. I am happy because I have a house and a car and things, but I will rejoice even if they are taken from me. I am happy because of external and fleeting things, but I will rejoice because of Jesus Christ. In Jesus, and in Jesus alone, I find joy.
And yes, I am able to describe my home as a happy place…at least 63% of the time. I can also say that it is a joyful place approximately 89.8% of the time.
So, while we are asking…what about you? Would you be able to describe your home as a happy place?