True happiness doesn’t come from things we pile up in our lives.
Even if you think you’ve found the perfect shoes.
I was running a bit early to church yesterday morning, so I decided to stop at Kohl’s. I had a coupon and bonus discount code that both expired after the weekend, and I really wanted some Keds. No, it’s not the 1990s anymore. Judge all you want.
I found a pair that called my name: they were pink with sea foam green (the best color ever) designs all over them, and some of those designs happened to be cats. Win. Plus, they were on the uber-clearance wall and were the last pair of that kind. I was pretty disappointed when I saw they were size 10 until I noticed another shoe buried underneath some of the other marked down ones. It was an 8–perfect! I sifted through the surrounding shoes but couldn’t find the other one. I called one of the employees over to help me, and we checked basically every box in the area with no success. Who takes just one shoe?
I was running out of time and told the sweet lady helping me that I could stop by after service. She took down my name and number and said she would call and leave me a message if she found the other shoe. Sadly, I didn’t have a voicemail when I checked my phone after church, so I called just to check. She had found another shoe in size 8, but they were both two left shoes, so she said someone must have accidentally bought two right shoes. (I certainly can’t endure that again.) She checked the database to see if any other stores in the area had the shoes, but it came back unsuccessful. Drat.
Later in the day, I ended up stopping at another Kohl’s that was on my way home (well, sort of), because I still needed to use my discounts, and I was hopeful that the database had been incorrect. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Rather, I had to settle for a pretty plain pair of Keds. Granted, they’re solid black, so they are pretty darn awesome, but they don’t have the sea foam green pineapples and cats, which is more than slightly disappointing. It’s possible that it once crossed my mind that I could buy both left shoes and try to mold one to my right foot. I don’t think it’s as ridiculous as it sounds.
Then it hit me how silly I was being. Because, at the end of the day, shoes are not going to determine my happiness.
I started thinking about how many times I had let such trivial things help decide my mood–whether it’s materialistic purchases, my performance in a race, how much money is in my bank account, or how awful humid weather makes my hair look (I know, shallow)–and I reminded myself that true joy can’t be found in those things. It just can’t.
I believe we were put on this earth for one reason: to know Jesus and make Him known to others–and we do this by loving people. And that’s the foundation for real happiness.
If I don’t get a pair of shoes I really want, it’s really not that big of a deal–I can rock another pair just as well; if I don’t run as fast as I want, I can shake it off and use it as motivation for the next race; if I don’t score as high as I want on FreeCell, I’m pretty sure I will get over it pretty quickly; if I get a broken heart from someone I really wanted to love me, perhaps it will lead me to write a book that will impact others; if Lindsay Lohan didn’t win queen at the Spring Fling in Mean Girls, it would not be the end of the world–as she proved, a crown is nothing but something that breaks as easily as plastic; if you don’t get what you want, the result doesn’t have to be utter despair.
If I somehow become rich and could actually afford to buy whatever I wanted from Anthropologie, it wouldn’t make me happy–I can’t take those things with me; if you’re crowned Homecoming Queen or Prom Queen in high school, no one really cares about that in the real world; if you were a really good football player back in the day, it won’t make you truly happy simply living in the glory days (cue Uncle Rico); if the man of your dreams finally asks you out on a date, it won’t make all of your other problems go away and make life instantly perfect; if your team wins the World Series, you can scream for joy in the moment, but eventually that moment will end, and you will once again have to face everything in your own world; if you get everything you want, the result won’t be eternal happiness.
That emotion can only be found in love–the love from the One who wants to see you genuinely happy.
Had I found that other size 8 shoe for the right foot, I’m sure it would have made me happy, at least temporarily. But it’s a happiness that doesn’t last. It’s as fleeting as a shoe separated from its counterpart.
But once you find joy, real joy, you won’t have to search for a missing part–it’s something so full and complete that your heart will instantly know you have all you need in the love that has filled it.