Today on the way to work, I was listening to The Jillian Michaels' Show podcast. The title of the post was "Are Riskier People Happier?" The title got my attention and I listened to her story about taking a risk on a recent vacation which ended in a horrible sandstorm, unintelligible guides, and 100-degree-plus temperatures. As horrid as the experience was in the moment, she now recounts the story with fond memories and lots of laughter. Jillian then referenced the famous quote, "Comedy is tragedy plus time."
That somewhat sums up how I feel about this experience. For the time being, it's tragedy, but given enough time, it will be comedy. Right now it stinks, but it won't stink forever.
What's been going through my mind lately is "His mercies are new every morning." Sometimes I've needed them by the hour.
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
If you read the entire passage in context, you'll see the writer's suffering was severe. Another verse that has played in my mind:
Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
The past three years have been a test of our family's endurance. The downsizing, moving, moving again, growing family, job and lifestyle changes are major. While some of the experiences have been what we would call "suffering," the end-result has been more. More love. More joy. More endurance. More hope. More faith. Hope is nothing to be ashamed of. It's' not a crutch. It's Truth. And that Truth has sustained us, even when we weren't looking to The Source and Sustainer of that Truth.
Finally, this entire passage holds truth I must not forget. Jesus is the author and perfecter of my and my family's faith.
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This afternoon, I asked the girls what they thought of Jillian's statement that "riskier people are happier." We have taken some major risks following God's call (and our own desires at times, to be honest.) Hannah brought up how stressful were the days in Shanghai airport: TJ throwing up, Tian busting his head open, spending hours and hours waiting for more waiting, crying over what we thought would be our certain separation across the ocean. Now, that story, along with the miraculous way we ended up flying home together, are excellent "dinner stories" as Hannah put it. (You can read that story here. Click "newer" for Part 2.)
So, do I believe riskier people are happier? It depends on the type of risk. If your risk is careless, then I can't see how that will lead to happiness. We have certainly made decisions carelessly or selfishly. Those don't usually end well. If your risk lies in following God, then joy (not always happiness) will follow. Risk-takers are more likely to experience amazing things. Take a leap!!
The Brown Family is currently still mid-leap. We're in the part where you're a little terrified, still not sure if your landing is going to be sure-footed. I do know that some very cool things are beginning to take shape, despite the suckish days. I know we have a lot of work to do. I also know we Brownies (all 7 of us) are in it together. Thick and thin. Better and worse. Richer and poorer.
In the meantime, I'll take those new mercies every morning.