Happiness Versus Holiness

“All I want is for you to be happy.” That statement has always bugged me for some reason. Don’t get me wrong, I want all my loved ones to be happy. I hate to think that any of them have to suffer or carry burdens, but happiness is not what life is about. God did not create humans and then say, “And let them be happy!” No. God created us to love and serve him and serve others on our journey to Heaven. There’s a difference between wanting someone to be happy and wanting what’s best for them.

If you truly loved someone, you would want what’s best for them, even if that meant they had to sacrifice happiness. Sometimes what makes us happy isn’t always good for us. Something we might enjoy could actually be harmful to our spiritual health. For example, if my friend Susie were to start doing drugs because it makes her “happy,” would that be okay? Should I just let her keep doing harmful things that damage her soul? No! As a Catholic, it is my moral obligation to Admonish the Sinner (one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy.) It would be a sin for me to let my friend continue this sinful way of life. Even if I spoke to her and tried to convince her to quit and she didn’t, at least I would have tried. You never know if your words may make a difference down the road, even if it’s not immediately.

Now this doesn’t mean that we go around criticizing every person we see doing wrong. We’re all sinners. It just means that when someone we love is harming their soul, we step up and try to lovingly advise them to come back to Christ. It can be difficult, especially since people do not enjoy being told they are in the wrong. I’ve had friends say to me, “Why are you being so mean? Can’t you see that I’m happy? Why are you trying to take that away from me?” Hearing that makes me feel like I am the one that’s being mean, but then I remember what Christ would want me to do, and I keep going. I don’t want any of my friends to be “happy” on this earth if that means they suffer for eternity in the next life. I know I would much rather endure suffering on this earth and be able to rejoice in Heaven forever.

It is easy to forget how insignificant our life is on this world. It seems like we will be here for so long, so why not do what makes us happy? But our earthly life is so short not only in God’s eyes, but also when compared to our eternal destination. Our lives are part of something much greater than us: the Salvation of the World. If Christ suffered and died for us, why can’t we suffer a little bit for him? Willingness to suffer for the beloved is an example of true love.  Christ loves our suffering. He thinks it’s beautiful- shouldn’t that make us want to suffer for him? As Philippians 1:29 tells us, “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him.” When happiness conflicts with holiness, always choose holiness.

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