With all the “Happy New Year” wishes, I think this poem by Naomi Shihab Nye, called “So Much Happiness” has a place in the conversation.
For me it has been a decade of “not much happiness.”
In fact, as I write this post sitting in my sister-in-law’s house in Salina, Kansas, I can’t help but realize that it was exactly 10 years ago that I found myself living right here, in Salina, for a few short months as I tried to make sense of my life. I brought my young family out here after resigning from a growing church in the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona. To say I was reeling in pain and confusion is a major understatement! It would also be fair to say that I had no clue what rock bottom felt like…not yet anyway.
While here in Salina I sought out advice and counsel from those I once studied under at Manhattan Christian College. I was reaffirmed as a person and as a pastor. I was told that God knew my future and he had me right where he wanted me. We wound up back in ministry, returning once again to Flagstaff, to a place and people we loved.
However, the ten years between then and now were hard…to say the least. On one hand, we rejoiced in the birth of our baby girl. But we also mourned the shocking loss of two dear family friends. I struggled to find my “sweet spot” vocationally. I was a worship pastor, banker, and a band director. I even tried my hand at being a Senior Pastor in a small town in New Mexico. I moved my family so many times I could barely remember my own address. It was during this decade that I met my biggest opposition ever. And I crumbled under the pressure. It was a brutal decade – financially, vocationally, emotionally, relationally and spiritually!
But it’s been getting a lot better…
You see, my family and I have been recovering from “soul-annihilation” in beautiful Colorado Springs. By God’s grace, our family is healthy, strong and deeply committed to one another as well as to God! Rebekah and I have great jobs. We are building new friendships as well as finding ourselves re-introduced to some great friends of old. We’ve been completely AMAZED at the way God has lifted us up and set our feet on a rock, giving us a firm place to stand!
Rebekah and I have discovered our mutual passion for Spiritual Formation and Soul Care. We are seeing how God is “honoring our story” and we are choosing to do the same! God’s grace truly is the glue mending our hearts and our souls as we reawaken to the joys of living in the power of the Holy Spirit!
Well, that’s my story. What’s yours?
Check out this poem and be attentive to the way it speaks to your soul…inviting you into a happiness found not in the things you do but in what you ALLOW God to do IN you!
So Much Happiness
“It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
With sadness there is something to rub against,
a wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up, something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change.
But happiness floats.
It doesn’t need you to hold it down.
It doesn’t need anything.
Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
and disappears when it wants to.
You are happy either way.
Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
and now live over a quarry of noise and dust
cannot make you unhappy.
Everything has a life of its own,
it too could wake up filled with possibilities
of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
and love even the floor which needs to be swept,
the soiled linens and scratched records…
Since there is no place large enough
to contain so much happiness,
you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
into everything you touch. You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it,
and in that way, be known.”
(from Risking Everything: 110 Poems of Love and Revelation)