Why I can’t respond to beauty
I find it hard to respond to beauty. Sunsets make me sad because they’re so beautiful and yet there is not enough time left in the day to produce a response of an equal magnitude.
I find happiness hard.
You see, I’m happy right now. But I’m used to fighting for my happiness. I’m used to watching pain and suffering and experiencing it too. Not on an unimaginable level like many people across the globe (I dare not even consider drawing comparisons between my life and that of those in third world countries) and yet at the same time, on a local level, life is hard.
But right now I’m happy and it’s making me uncomfortable. Because, you see, I’ve seen pain. I know what it’s like. And now to experience happiness, to experience a life, for the moment, free of suffering… that is unusual. I know that elsewhere in parallel lives, others are not experiencing my happiness.
And so I feel unease. My happiness feels inappropriate. A bit like a guilty pleasure.
To have happiness handed to me on a platter – how on earth am I supposed to respond to that?
Why I don’t want happiness
It’s like the free gift of grace. God granting a salvation, indeed dying for a salvation, which I never earnt and will never deserve. And to be honest, I’m not good at responding to that either.
I don’t know what the right response to happiness is.
On one hand, I know that my desire to do something to earn happiness is a result of pride. Of stubbornness and sinful independence. No one likes someone who won’t accept a gift. That part of my response is definitely wrong.
Yet there’s another side to the problem.
I feel like I have a duty to my fellow man. In my elation I ought not be blinkered to the suffering of others. And yet, how can I possibly enjoy my happiness, and thus be happy, while others are suffering?
Like always in this world, my happiness is a mixed bag. Unlike normal, however, instead of starting with pain and seeking joy, right now I’m starting with joy and seeking… I don’t know what. A happiness I can earn? A way to enjoy my joy while others suffer? A way to respond appropriately to what God has given me while acknowledging that others don’t have it?
Is it possible that in the midst of happiness I’m seeking… pain?
Why my responses are okay
All this pondering makes me sound very messed up. And there’s a good chance I’m overthinking the issue… yet at the same time, I think my thoughts are valid. Surely it’s not right to assume happiness is normal, expected or deserved. After all, such a reality is not (and can’t be) an expectation of many across the globe and even in my own country.
Because sadness exists. Pain exists. No happiness is complete this side of heaven.
And perhaps therein lies the key. This side of heaven.
The world is broken and crumbling and falling down all around me. Glory is coming, and has partly come, but is not yet here.
Is my response good? Is finding beauty and happiness hard the best response?
But it’s an okay one. Why? Because it forces me to Jesus – the one true Joy. It forces me to acknowledge that in this torn apart world I can’t even respond properly to something as simple as happiness.
My unsatisfactory response to happiness is the result of a sinful me and a sinful world. As a result, my response is never going to be perfect while I live here. But one day, in my Real Country, it will be.
One day I will be able to respond to beauty. One day, I will dance in happiness, as one now dances in the rain.
Praise the Lord.