I deviated from the Question of the Day Plan. I had two more questions to ask out of Soul Searching but some conversations throughout the week made me decide to go in a different direction. So, as the kids streamed in to Attic After School I asked each to complete the sentence “I just want to be _____” on a little slip of paper. I got a total of 35 responses.
There were several ways of answering the question (though I was fishing for a particular one). A lot of the kids answered the question “I want to be a _____ when I grow up.” There were a few who wanted to be dancers, a couple singers, three soldiers, an anthropologist, etc. No small number just completely goofy: “I just want to be peanut butter.” One kid wanted to be a basketball player. One wanted to be a basketball. Go figure.
There were a few that said, “I just want to be me.” I’m still not quite sure what this means (a topic for another day, I suppose) though I think they meant, “I just want to be the best I can be,” another one of the responses.
Several went with religious answers. “I just want to be godly,” “I just want to be pure,” and perhaps most telling, “I just want to be innocent again.”
All were excellent answers, even the goofy ones, which made Talk Time more fun.
What I was fishing for, however, was the handful of people who responded, “I just want to be happy,” and it was to this that I turned my attention in my conversations with the kids. The goal was to point them to four simple truths.
(1) It’s not wrong to want to be happy. God created us that way. The problem is that (2) many of the ways we look for happiness lead to despair. Much of what the world offers is at best temporary, and at worst destructive. We lack the knowledge of ourselves and the world to know what will make bring us joy and so we go looking in all the wrong places. The good news is that (3) God, our Creator, knows just what we need to find lasting joy – and, in fact, He is just what we need. So, as Jesus says, instead of seeking happiness, (4) seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, rejoice in God first, and allow Him to fulfill the desires of your heart.
As C.S. Lewis says (because you can never go wrong adding a C.S. Lewis quote to your blog post):
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”