July 6, 2011
I love to sit back and watch people. I suppose I am what you call an ‘Armchair Psychiatrist’. I love to ponder and analyze why people do what they do.
Thankfully I had been a scholar of the bible long before psychiatry. I learned, to my surprise, that in all of my psychiatry courses those thoughts and theories were already documented in the bible. I kept proclaiming to myself as I would read my text – that’s in the bible! Solomon was truly correct in stating that there was nothing new under the sun.
So when I look at people today and see the things that they do I have simply narrowed down their behavior to one simple thing. They are in search of a ‘Feel Good’. Our background, social class, economic status, age, gender, etc. will all play a factor into what it is that we pursue to achieve that one thing, but we all pursue it in some way or another. And, not just once, but repeatedly. Sometimes consciously and sometimes, many times, unconsciously.
Another thing that I have noticed through the years is that, in this microwave society, our insistence on getting that ‘Feel Good’ has grown more impatient.
Through the decades, first the 60’s then 70’s and 80’s society has turned the focus to self and self gratification. Through the years it has become the status quo to seek pleasure and self gratification and something that is not even questioned any longer.
I’ve watched some very close people in my life unconsciously in search of a ‘Feel Good’ try to return to a place and a time in their childhood. Their memories of that place and time were so happy and fun that they continually try to revisit that place to regain that feeling. But it is never the same. Then the disappointment sets in and rational talk ensues. What did you expect?
Of course there is the obvious. The drugs and alcohol, the shopping and buying, the extreme sports and the high of a victory and rush of adrenaline. New this and new that. New people, places and things. It is all about being in search of a ‘Feel Good’.
Now where am I going with all of this you might ask. Is it wrong to feel good? No! Absolutely not! In fact in John 10:10 Jesus himself said:
Amplified Bible (AMP)
The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). CLICK HERE TO READ IN FULL CONTEXT
So what is the problem here? The way and the means by which we seek to achieve life enjoyment.
Here is the bottom line – happiness is gained from the external and is always temporary. It comes, gives us pleasure and then is gone leaving a diminishing afterglow that usually quickly fades. Then we are back in pursuit of another ‘Feel Good’.
We often chide our children when they say, “I’m bored” but then how often do we ourselves become bored with our latest ‘whatever’?
A new car is great, for awhile. A new home is great, for awhile. A new girlfriend is great for awhile. A new job is great, for awhile. A new experience is great, for awhile. That bag of cookies is great, for awhile. You see the pattern.
There is nothing at all wrong with the things I mentioned above and yes they can and many times do make our lives so much easier and much more pleasurable. But so often we are quickly discontent once we have the very thing we just knew would bring us pleasure. So we are off to the next one.
So what is the solution? How do we find contentment with life beyond the external?
That is the topic in many churches and many preachers talk about it in sermons. Be content. Paul stated in Philippians 4:
Amplified Bible (AMP)
11 Not that I am implying that I was in any personal want, for I have learned how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am.
12 I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want. CLICK HERE TO READ IN FULL CONTEXT
And when we hear those words of Paul we become determined to BE content. We attempt to force ourselves, no matter what happens to BE content. It is hard and we fail and we beat ourselves up about it and resign ourselves to hopefully someday be like Paul who was obviously a super-Christian.
We also begin to feel guilty for seeking things that do bring us pleasure. We often decide that denying ourselves those things will punish us, in a sense, for not being content to live without them. We as Christians have developed some very dysfunctional behaviors in an effort to be pleasing to Christ.
But there is a way. The way Paul was able to easily say he was content in all situations. Not because he determined to BE content, but because one day he discovered that he WAS content no matter what happened.
I’ve been talking a lot recently about transformation from the inside out. Actually the only way transformation takes place is from the inside out. Contentment comes from the inside out. It is not something that you can force upon yourself because you decide to. It comes from the peace that passes all understanding. It comes from the giver of peace – the Holy Spirit.
Amplified Bible (AMP)
22 But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, 23 Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge]. CLICK HERE TO READ IN FULL CONTEXT
When we begin to spend time with the Father and allow the Holy Spirit to direct us and guide us. We will begin to transform. When we become good ground, good fruit – Holy Spirit fruit – will grow within us.
Joy is the second fruit of the Spirit. Many people confuse joy (gladness) for happiness, but they are not the same. The joy that resides within from the Holy Spirit is eternal and doesn’t fade with time or with things coming and going.