Are you happy? No – really. Are you happy? When you wake up in the morning are you ready to face the day? Or do you wake up with the dreads…. How does a person truly find happiness? Sometimes it seems like a person would have to be an idiot – in order to be happy. I mean really...
Over the past few months I have learned a lot of painful/wonderful things about myself. I am basically a happy person. I am not overly critical, irritable, anxious, or depressed. I wake up pretty cheerful and I take most things in stride…that is… unless you cross me.
mmmm….hmmmmm. If you say something mean to me, or rude, or hurtful – watch out. Do you take me for some kind of an idiot? Who do you think you are? You may not see it – but this is what is going on inside of me…
I might be skipping along enjoying my day just minding my own business when one little comment from someone can take me down.
When someone says something hurtful, critical, or rude it’s gloves on for me. Yep…it’s not pretty. I fight back. Sometimes outwardly, sometimes inwardly, and lots of times by simply whining about it to my husband.
Back in the mid 70s Jackson Browne wrote a song called The Pretender and I took the title of today’s blog from this song. In the song he says, “I’m going to be a happy idiot…” In our family we lovingly describe my husband as a happy idiot. I am telling you, nothing bothers this man. Only the thing is…he’s not an idiot. He is wise and he is kind…and he’s always, always happy. More on him in a little bit…
A few months ago I read the book The Bait of Satan and it knocked the wind out of me. You may have heard the phrase, “If the Devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy”. After reading this book it makes me also think that if the Devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make sure you’re mad”.
The general theme of the book is that as Christians we should be “unoffendable”. This means I don’t get to play the victim card when I get my little ole’ feelings hurt. It means I should not be offended by someone else’s behavior or poor choices. It’s not my business. It means I don’t get critical or irritated because I am no longer offended by anyone or anything. It means I don’t rant about the guys on the other side of the political fence. It means I don’t presume what negative thing someone else might be thinking – because I am not going to be thinking about it in the first place.
For many years I was a manager for small businesses and I cannot tell you how many times employees were stressed out because they were worried about what the boss was thinking about them. I had a close connection with their bosses and I can tell you that 95% of the time the employee wasn’t even on the boss’s radar. The boss was simply busy running the business. It is always dangerous to presume what someone else is thinking.
There have been times when I have presumed someone is mad at me and my husband would often say, “They aren’t thinking about you, Jack. They have enough things of their own going on and it’s not about you.”
When we are focused on ourselves we become more easily “offended” by others. I am convinced that this is one reason why so many people today are suffering from depression. We become depressed when we are constantly thinking about me. Serving oneself is not a recipe for happiness.
When we become focused on the wrong done to us it is difficult for us to see areas in our own life that need to change. When we are offended, Satan blinds us and we are hindered in our ability to hear God’s voice.
So, I was reading along in this book and came upon a disturbing passage…
“If you are offended, and in unforgiveness refuse to repent of this sin, you have not come to the knowledge of the truth. You are deceived, and you confuse others with your hypocritical lifestyle.”
Wait. Wait. Waiiiitttt a minute here. So now I am the sinner? I didn’t do anything here…don’t you remember that, Lord??? I cried out to God and I actually cried real tears to my husband. How is it that I have now become the hypocrite when others have hurt me? I said to my husband, “So what book are THEY reading??? I don’t know if I can do this…I come from a long line of “offendeds”. (The happy idiot laughed his head off when I said this and it was of no help to me).
Yep. My family of origin offends easily. Oh, we don’t take anything lyin’ down…oh no we don’t! We know when we are wronged and we know when we are right. No one will be stompin’ on us with golf cleats. …and you know what I learned about this? This is called..ugh…pride. How dare you do that to – me?
There have been times when I have been mad about something and my husband has looked at me and said, “Jack – I really don’t want to get mad about that so why don’t you go call one of your friends?” (It is those moments when I consider him a happy idiot – minus the happy part)
When we become offended, we become self-righteous and hypocritical. How can it be that Jesus does not hold our sins against us – yet we choose to hold another’s sin against them? How can we expect Jesus to love us with our flaws – yet we do not tolerate the flaws in others? It’s not good. In Matthew 5:46-47 He says:
“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?”
That’s the thing about Jesus. He loved the unlovely. When we are offended – even when we are right – we are wrong. Being offended keeps us from fulfilling our God-given potential. Here is another humbling quote from the book –
“Pride cannot travel this path, but only those who desire peace. It is a trail that leads to humiliation and abasement. It is the road of life.”
I’ve been working on this for the past few weeks. I have been getting better at being a happy idiot. And you know what? It doesn’t feel like I am being an idiot at all. It feels free. With God’s help I have sought to Let. It. Go. and to look for the good in everyone and everything. Happy idiot. Happy idiot. Happy idiot. I have to keep reminding myself.
And here’s the thing. As I have sought to be a happy idiot – I have been able to hear the Lord’s voice more clearly. Seriously – if you want to rev up your spiritual life, just give it up and give it to the Lord. Oh, don’t get me wrong…I have a long ways to go and I still have my days. I am quite sure I will not ever be as selfless as my husband. He simply doesn’t think about himself – ever.
So I challenge you – and me. For the rest of the Christmas season and the year 2015 – let us purpose to be happy idiots. Let us refuse to find fault, get annoyed, play the victim card, hold the grudge, criticize, complain, lose patience, or get angry. Let us refuse to think of ourselves. Let us look for the good. Let us truly love.
***I need to take just a teensy minute to clarify something for those of you who are raising kids. I want to make sure that you don’t get the wrong message from me here. It is impossible to not see faults in those short little ones and the trying teenagers that you are raising. As a parent, God gives you eyes to see their weaknesses so that you can train them up. So here’s the deal regarding the kids – you will see their faults – and as a parent God calls you to help them to change and to grow in character. But – if you can be a happy idiot you won’t have to get annoyed, play the victim, criticize, complain, etc., etc. (This truly takes a miracle from God – I know it’s hard)
In any relationship there are times that we need to draw loving boundaries – but there are ways to do this without becoming crazy and offended.
Freedom from offense is essential for every Christian. If we remain free from offense we will stay in God’s will. If we become offended, we will be blinded by Satan and will end up fulfilling his purpose and will. It’s our choice.
“Great peace have they which love thy law; and nothing shall offend them.”
– Psalm 119:165 KJVUntil next time,
Great writing Jackie. Every successful organization (family, company, team) needs at least one Happy Idiot. Unfortunately I tend toward “offended”.. A lot more stress on that side of the fence.. The main reason for the comment is that for the past week I can’t get The Pretender lyrics out of my head!!!!
Hahaha! We just saw Jackson Browne in November! It sure takes us back in time…