Happiness is your choice


Happiness is camping.  Happiness is time with my family.  Happiness is heading north in Michigan.  Those are three pretty good representations of happiness in my life.  All three were supposed to converge over the Labor Day weekend, but the lesson became that happiness is a choice.

It was all set.  Five days of camping in Northern Michigan.  It’s about my favorite thing to do.  Other than lamenting the fact that I was going to miss the opening weekend of college football, I was really anticipating our only camping adventure of the year.  The trailer and canoe were borrowed.  The gear was packed.  Last minute repairs were made to the Blazer just in time.  I picked up the truck and we loaded up.  The trailer was hitched.  The canoe was on the roof.  The family was buckled up.  It looked like a darn Norman Rockwell painting.

Then I smelled gas.  Then I saw gas.  The tank had ruptured and gas was pooling up on the driveway.  It’s just gas, right?  The leak isn’t that big, right?   I can still make it, right?  I get into the drivers seat determined to make this memory happen and then….I push the brakes all the way to the floor.  My dash looks like a Christmas tree of warning lights.  I hop out of the Blazer…no…I offer a scream of frustration and then I hop out of the Blazer and see the underside of my motor drenched in brake fluid.  The brake lines blew.  But, it wasn’t really gas pooled on the driveway or brake fluid dripping off the engine block, it was my happiness.  This trip was in serious jeopardy.

My internal well being was trending toward despair.  These moments make me feel like if I don’t pull this off, I am failing as a husband and father.  Ever felt that kind of thing?

The only solution was to call my friend and beg for the use of his truck.  Thankfully, he complied.  This trip was going to happen.  The problem was that I was going to be miserable.  I’m frustrated.  I’m counting the additional repair bill coming my way.  I am putting my friend out.  I know the canoe isn’t going to fit in the borrowed truck.  Fishing is out.  Paddling the lake is out.  We are going to be late and it’s supposed to rain anyway.  I’m a loser.  Life sucks, but… we are going camping.

As I went to my friend’s house to pick up his truck, he knows me well enough to understand what emotions are rattling around in my heart.  He simply says, “You know, you can still have fun.”

That was it.  I was at the point of decision.  I was going camping, but what kind of trip was it going to be?  You have been in the same kind of situations.  Things are not going well.  What do you do?  The temptation is to be miserable and make everyone else miserable for the sake of declaring how unhappy you are with your circumstances.  That is dumb.

“You know, you can still have fun.”

Yes.  Happiness is a choice.  The camping trip was blowing up in a hurry.  The easy thing would have been to light the fuse.  You have to choose to be happy.  You have to choose joy.

This world is broke.

Everyday is an encounter with the imperfect.

If our happiness depends on all our circumstances aligning and perfection being achieved, we will never be happy.  Happiness isn’t possible.  Once in a while, it all comes together, but most of my plans, hopes and dreams are met with resistance.  That is the reality of living in a world that is not what God intended.  That is our life.  We have to choose happiness.

But, here is the thing…you have to keep choosing it.

We got to the campground late.  Setting up tents in the dark isn’t the greatest.  We ate dinner at 11:00 pm.   It rained almost the entire weekend.  I woke up to the tent leaking right on top of me.  I never got to canoe or fish.  It was too cold to swim.  I struggled at first, but my friends words kept ringing in my ears..”You know, you can still have fun.”  And so, we chose it.  We chose fun.  We played games, we went for a hike, we ate awesome food, we talked around the fire.  We chose happiness.  We had a great trip.  It wasn’t the trip I planned, but that is life.  We enjoyed the trip we had.

“Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice.”  Philippians 4:4

In other words, choose to be happy.


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