By Daniel Bramlett
I smile a lot when I preach. I’m sure people think I’m goofy, but I can’t tell you how much I enjoy what I do. Sure there are hard moments and times filled with grief, but even in the tough times there are things to smile about. A sweet memory shared; a story that makes you laugh until you cry. There are just billions of reasons to smile.
I spend a good bit of my time counseling folks. I’m in no way a psychologist. I do not prescribe medicine. I do not deem people crazy. My role is much more of a guy who helps folks unpack their lives, see what is good and helpful and needs to stay and what needs to be thrown away. One of my taglines in my counseling conversations is “How much do you sleep? How is your diet? How often do you exercise?” You may not realize it but these three things form a basis for your health. So often unhappy people are found up late at night on their phones, eating junk food and refusing to do anything to get their heart rate up. They feel terrible and then wonder why they are not happy. I don’t mean at all to pick on anyone, but I am deadly serious in saying everyone needs good sleep, a healthy diet and plenty of exercise.
Sleeplessness breeds a yucky persona. We feel awful when we don’t get enough sleep. The blue screen on our phone and computer rob our brains of the immediate sleep sensations. We get sucked into whatever we are doing and put off sleep. When we finally get around to it there aren’t enough hours left in the night to really fall deeply asleep.
Junk food fills our bellies and gives us the sensation of being full all the while our bodies are starving for nutrients. I’ll just tell ya, Little Debbies, potato chips and ice cream will not give you the stuff you need to keep your body going during the day. They taste great every once in a while, but when that’s all that is in your tank you will feel like junk.
So many of us work for a living while we sit. This pays the bills but if we don’t take some steps to get our heart rate up on a regular basis we won’t be paying bills for long. Our muscles were made to be used and this includes your heart. Take a walk (or run) around the block a few times a week. Ride a bike. Go for a hike in the mountains. Exercise and your body will thank you.
People so often crave those happy moments but don’t know how to achieve them. God gave us these three realities and if we ignore them in favor of what looks good, tastes good and feels good in the moment we will suffer. But that’s not all it takes to be happy. I know plenty of physically fit people who are still longing for something more. Cheerios may help lower your cholesterol but the Gospel is the only thing that can make the heart whole.
Jesus talks a lot about happiness. He offers a whole list of happy sources in Matthew chapter five. He says those who recognize that God is King are happy. He says those who admit and grieve their sin are happy. Those who put themselves at the back of the line are happy. Those who are hungry and thirsty for the things that Jesus offers are happy. Those that show mercy to others are happy. He says those who strive to live clean lives before God are happy. He says the peacemakers (not trouble makers) are happy. He even says those who take heat because of their allegiance to the Kingdom of God will be happy.
We are made to think that if we feed that voice inside of us that craves everything instant and procrastinates everything good we will be satisfied. We believe if we practice the teaching of chasing after everything we don’t yet have but want we will be happy. We are led to feel that our most important need is to be comfortable. None of these things are true. Most often the best things are the things we work and wait for.
Happiness is achievable. Believe me, I know! My life is far from perfect but I love where God has us and the things He allows us to do! How happy are you? How badly do you want to be happy? I promise if you begin to take steps towards a biblically whole heart and life, you will be happier. Take a chance. Wait for it. And smile as God begins to restore what Little Debbie has eaten!