Personal happiness is a hot topic. Think life coaches, therapy, exercise, spirituality, diets. We’re looking to be better – to be happy. While personal happiness is indeed important, it’s impact on community is even more profound.
Let me back up for a second. We spend a lot of time trying to fix the outside – quitting smoking, eating better – these are great, and we should do these things. But it’s the internal characteristics we possess that wreak so much havoc – anger, selfishness, contempt, resentment, envy, greed. Many of us do work on these, but it’s a private matter. It’s not like we chat on about how selfish we are at a spin class.
Privacy limits our potential, and our growth. I was struggling with some acquaintances recently who tend to be obsessive. Trying to work with them to get consensus was exhausting. I started getting angry, resentful, and was quickly slipping into contempt. Fortunately, I was sharing all this with a friend.
My friend listened to my tirade, and then gently suggested that they’re not the healthiest folks, and they need our love and compassion. She was right. She was also compassionate with me. She didn’t judge my anger. She simply showed me a better way when I wasn’t able to do it for myself – that’s community! I was able to go back into a difficult circumstance and continue to help a community versus create animosity.
Because I opened up to a friend and exposed the raw, nasty stuff in my heart, “we” (not me) were able to do what I couldn’t do for myself. As long as we keep the inner toxins private, they’ll continue to poison our happiness and we’ll remain in darkness. Community, especially authentic sharing in God’s community, shines a bright light and leads the way.
Thanks for reading,
~ Ted Olson