The pursuit of holiday happiness can make you miserable

Are you happy right now? Right at this moment? What about yesterday? Was it a good day? If you are happy, are you happy enough? Are you as happy as everyone else? How happy do you need to be?

We live in a strange, psychological paradox—we are consumed with anxiety about being happy. In fact, several studies from UC-Berkley have concluded that “the more people valued happiness as a separate life goal, the less happy they were.” The song might say, “Don’t worry, be happy,” but the truth is that the more we try to be happy the more we end up filled with worry. I’m afraid Bobby McFerrin may have lied to us.

The broken relationship between happiness and worry only gets worse this time of year. The countdown to Christmas has begun. Black Friday has come and gone and most budgets have been blown to bits already. My Facebook feed is full of photos of decked halls and tinseled trees. The music piped into our local stores reminds me that this is “the most wonderful time of the year.” But the buildup to Christmas doesn’t often feel all that wonderful, does it? Between deadlines and decorating, shopping and baking, the countdown to Christmas can become a heavy burden instead of a wonderful blessing. It’s as if the more we try to find holiday happiness the more we lose it.

It’s as if the more we try to find holiday happiness the more we lose it. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. There is an answer to the anxiety that weighs each of us down. The answer is a Savior named Jesus who transferred the weight of your burden to himself that you might live in the kind of freedom and joy that only he can provide. There is an answer to the anxiety that weighs each of us down, but the answer isn’t easy. It cost Jesus his life, and it can cost us our control, our independence, and our pride. But on the other side is what the Scriptures call “the peace that passes all understanding.” That peace is what Jesus came to bring.

This month at St. Stephen Lutheran we’re building up to Christmas with a series called “The Weight Begins.” Each Sunday before Christmas we’ll explore different ways Jesus takes the weight of worry and burden of sin from us. I hope you’ll join us to take the weight away. We worship each Sunday morning at 9:30am. All are welcome, come as you are. I’d be happy to welcome you.

Serving in Christ,

Pastor Bassett