Unhappiness Traps (Part 2)
In the previous post about finding happiness, we discussed two of four happiness stealers: controlling your outward image and controlling everyone and everything. Today we’re talking about the last two traps we might fall into when trying to find happiness in our own way without God’s guidance.
3. Trying to control your problems
In ministry, my husband and I have seen so many couples come through the doors when they were in crises. We would advise them to seek counseling, get into a recovery group, or join an intensive Bible study focused on marriage. Some did, some didn’t. Sad to say, of the couples who refused to get help and continued to try and deal with their struggles in their own way, many didn’t make it.
Watching marriages fall apart around you in the church is difficult, and I have learned without both parties agreeing to surrender their problems to God daily, happiness will allude them and their marriage will continue to disintegrate.
Many of us have good intentions and don’t want to see our lives or marriages fall apart, but just like Paul, we must realize we have a battle going on in our minds. He said, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but instead what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15)
If we don’t stop and confess to God our attempts to control our problems, we will continue to try to do the right thing but succumb to the easier path instead. Only when we can openly admit to and accept the truth about our human nature, with its tendency to do the wrong thing, can we embrace our spiritual poverty and begin to find happiness.
Otherwise, we are headed towards the last unhappiness trap.
4. Trying to control your pain.
The truth is, when we attempt to control our image, people, or our lives, we are going to experience pain when our attempts to play God fail and don’t give us the results we wanted. We are now faced with a new dilemma: if we stop our controlling ways, how do we handle the pain still inside of us? Will we stuff it and ignore it? Tell ourselves it doesn’t exist? Will we try to numb it out by medicating it or put up walls of depression hoping not to feel anything? Will we minimize our pain by telling ourselves a lie, like it’s not a big deal?
David gave some insight on what happened to him when he tried to ignore all of his problems. Psalm 40:12 says, “Problems far too big for me to solve are piled higher than my head. Meanwhile my sins, too many to count have caught up with me and I am ashamed to look up.” Until we face the truth about our life and the pain we are in, we will not find the happiness that God wants us to experience.
The key to finding forgiveness is in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins.” James 5:16 tells us how to find healing: “Confess your sins to one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
If we want to find happiness, then we must be real with God and others, confess our shortcomings, admit our mistakes, and own the way we blow it.
The other alternative to never dealing with our controlling ways is to wake up one day and realize we are a full blown CONTROL FREAK! Don’t worry if you are one; it is never too late to invite God in to help you change!
Tonya Towner is the Director of Operations and leader of Celebrate Recovery at Openwater Church in Odessa, FL. She is married to Pastor Dave Towner and has three daughters and four grandchildren.