“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”- this phrase is engraved in our national consciousness. But what is happiness? Can we actually find it, or are we destined only to pursue? I have searched for true happiness fruitlessly, until a simple question asked by a friend showed me the way. What I learned is that God is my Father, and that the only way I can find true happiness is through cultivating a relationship with Him.
I was taught from an early age that I am God’s daughter in the literal sense, not just metaphorically. He is all-knowing and all-powerful, and literally moves heaven and earth for my benefit. I have never questioned this belief, but as a young adult I rebelled and stopped living according to the tenets of my religion for a few years. I stopped praying and lost touch, as it were, with my Father. I had a good life—good friends, a great job, freedom to do as I pleased. I was also perpetually cranky and somewhat depressed. I attributed it to stress and decided to take a vacation and visit a friend of mine in Logan, Utah. The drive is beautiful and I took the most scenic route, hoping the beauty would do its magic as it always had and remove my stress.
When I arrived in Logan, I complained to my friend that I felt no better after the drive, and worried that I had evolved into an unhappy person. In response, my friend asked me if I really felt that God loved me. I replied that I knew he did. She explained that she did not question what I knew, but what I felt. I had to admit that I didn’t feel anything about God, because I had ignored that part of my life for so long. My wise friend explained that I could not be happy unless I had not just a belief in God, but a relationship with Him as my Father.
What kind of relationship can one have with God? Because He is my Father, the actions I take are similar to what I would do with my mortal father. When I pray, I speak to Him to communicate–asking questions, expecting answers, and expressing my feelings. I try to listen to what He would have me hear. I realize that it is okay to question Him, if I do so with the intent of understanding His will. I strive to trust him, knowing that He loves me and that everything that happens in my life is for my ultimate benefit, even if I don’t understand and even if it is painful. Instead of just acknowledging His existence in my head, I engage my heart and seek to be nearer to Him.
When my friend reminded me of what I really already knew, a light bulb switched on in my mind and heart. I began working on bringing my heart in line with the things my intellect knew. Since then, I have worked to cultivate a relationship with God, my Father. My life has certainly not become easier, but it has taken on new meaning. I am sure that I will have pain, sadness, and tribulation in my life, and things will happen that I will not understand. But regardless of what happens in my life, because I have a personal relationship with God, I will be happy.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.