It’s a new year! Are you happy? Does your life have meaning and purpose?
Welcome to our new More Than a Carpenter blog series, in which we focus on Jesus! Let’s start with this quote by Thomas Aquinas, the famous philosopher and theologian: “There is within every soul a thirst for happiness and meaning.” Do you agree?
Some people feel this “thirst” early. Others only become aware of it in the moments life slows down and they get quiet. Some people notice it as a vague annoyance. Others feel it acutely, like physical pain.
Josh first noticed his thirst in his early teens. “I wanted to be happy,” he shares. “I wanted my life to have meaning. I became hounded by the three basic questions that haunt every human life: Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going?“
Josh felt an emptiness, but also a smoldering rage from the physical and emotional abuse he endured at home. Just a kid, he didn’t know how to handle either. But when he escaped to college, Josh decided to find answers — to grab the great life the world owed him for all he’d been through. But where to start?
Searching for “Smart” Happy and Meaning
Having grown up in a religious farming community, Josh first looked for answers in church. He picked one near school, showing up whenever the doors were open. But Josh found that he felt worse, not better, when he was there. Why? Intellectualism was paramount to Josh; so being told to “have faith” when he asked questions wasn’t going to cut it with him. How, he wondered, could people be so silly to blindly believe?
“I thought Christians were walking idiots,” Josh admits. “They told me what they believed, but they couldn’t give me any common sense, intelligent reason for why they believed it.”
Chucking Christianity, Josh turned to his professors for answers, and quickly became their most unpopular student by pestering them with his questions. Josh’s frustration mounted, as he realized that his professors seemed to be as clueless as he was about how to be consistently happy or find meaning.
One day, as he spotted a student wearing a T-shirt that announced, “Don’t follow me, I’m lost,” Josh decided that about summed up the wisdom his university could offer.
Josh then tried to fill the void by taking on student leadership roles on campus. He gained prestige and power, but both failed to fulfill him. By now Josh was miserable — but hiding it so well that his friends thought he was the happiest guy on campus. They didn’t catch on that Josh’s mental state depended entirely on his circumstances.
“I was like a boat out in the ocean tossed back and forth by the waves,” admits Josh. “I had no rudder, no direction or control.” He only made it through the grind of each week by looking forward to partying hard on the weekends.
Was anyone truly happy, he wondered? Or, like him, was everyone faking it, getting through life with the crutch of their own unhealthy habits?
Are unhealthy habits or addictions what get you through each day? If so, check out our Resolution Movement, a safe, encouraging community where you can grow and thrive.
Josh happened to notice a group of students who looked “disgustingly” happy — and, more importantly, consistently acted like it. They were nice to each other as well as those outside their group. What “happy” pill were they taking? Josh was going to find out!
A few weeks later, Josh got the chance to ask their secret. The answer they provided was NOT what he was expecting.
Join us for next week’s blog post to hear how this conversation unexpectedly set Josh on the path of pursuing the God he thought only silly people could believe in!
Jesus: He’s More Than a Carpenter!
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