Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Are You Happier Now?

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I was seventeen. I’d wake up in the morning and listen to “Layton and Dearman In the Morning” on WERC radio in Birmingham. I had just about three choices of music for my drive across the metro area to school. Today I have thousands of choices that I can activate by voice and stream to various spots in my house without moving a single device. I can regulate the music using  the watch on my wrist. At 17, my mom would hurry me to the breakfast table, lamenting that the eggs and biscuit and gravy would be cold if I didn’t come on. There was no quick microwave reheating. Sometimes I would ask my dad to let me go to the office with him and deliver me mid-morning to school because I had to finish a research paper or project. I’d need transportation to the big library downtown and I’d have to take note cards for documentation. There was no googling or running computer references or printing from an online document. If I needed to reach a parent while at the library, I’d have to hunt a phone and I’d need change. I had eight track tapes—just a few —of the Carpenters, Barry Manilow and John Denver in my old Impala and I had a machine to play them that covered the entire top of my chest of drawers. It would be a few months before I would meet my future husband, and, then, when we were apart, our calls, from rotary phones, would be strictly timed, because every minute was charged. Often we would wait till after eleven p.m. to talk, because then the rate dropped to half price. I couldn’t order most things from home. I couldn’t just ‘erase” or delete an error on the sheet on which I was typing. I had to actually get out white paint and a brush and paint over my mistakes, and they were many. Further, my typewriter seemed to always be running out of usable ribbon. If I needed a copy of something I was typing, I had to travel to the library and pay for Xerox copies to be made. If I missed The Brady Bunch on Friday night…well, I just missed it. There was no retrieval of a missed program. In Birmingham, racial unrest reached phenomenal proportions and Vietnam was still at the forefront of the news programming in that little one-(teeny) bath, three bedroom house I shared with five other people.

What hits me hard, almost every day, is that I have so much more now—technology, funding, convenience, living space. But all of that has not made life easier or better; just different. This is not a lament. It’s a praise. 

I praise Him that happiness is independent of the physical circumstances, and is, instead, found in Christ. If you are significantly happier today than you were ten years ago, you likely put on Christ in that interim. When this reality hits hard—that the presence of more ease is not the presence of more peace—I praise Him for the constitution of real contentment. Contentment in Christ spans years, and changes and accumulation or loss of possessions. It remains mostly unaffected by whatever is happening “out there” and rests squarely in what He is doing through the Word, “in here”—in my soul. 

Someone else expressed it better: “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11).

I’ve never truly learned to be abased. I’ve abounded in His mercy every day of my life. I’ve never been hungry as was Paul. But I’ve lived long enough to know that happiness never emerges from wealth, health, what eases the plans or what pleases the palate. He is the source of contentment. I’m thankful for the consistency factor of contentment in my Lord. He provides. 

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