Follow your bliss.
This seems to be the primary psychological path to a happy life that is set forth by the sages of our day. When I was younger, I rejected this idea as being the opposite of God’s will. I believed that what I wanted was always in direct opposition to God’s will. Happiness was not the goal. Only obedience. It never occurred to me that the first step in doing God’s will is discerning the difference between my own will and God’s. Discernment is the crown of wisdom. How could a layman like myself hope to arrive at a level of knowing God’s voice and His will? After much reflection and questioning my own thoughts and beliefs, it would seem that God’s “voice” is not much different from my own consciousness. It is “me.”
The jury is still out on whether the division between God’s voice and my own is possible in the deepest parts. Can I make this distinction on my own? Is it possible to separate my own will from God’s? On a moral level, discerning God’s will is pretty dialectic. The Bible is full of “do this” and “don’t do that.” One can arrive at God’s will by reading His commands and by hearing those commands preached and taught. In this way, man’s conscience is purified and reprogrammed in a sense. This process is fine and good and well worth pursuing. However, I want to know God’s will in the inner parts. Does my own conscience bear witness to the truths that lead to doing God’s will? Are these truths self evident?
For a mom of five, living in the world, and working in this current system of trade, politics, and economy, the path to discernment is messy. I do not have a clear-cut rule to help me along the way. My days are full of diversion, interruptions, and switchbacks. I will set out in one direction only to find myself in the same place. This leads me to a kind of spiritual apathy and despondency. Spiritual despondency is like a treadmill, a whole lot of work but going nowhere.
Turns out this going nowhere builds muscle and slims, but unless one gets off the conveyer belt the fitness one gains walking miles in one place is never actualized. This is what a lot of spiritual pursuits feel like to me. Working hard, but not doing God’s will, or at least feeling like I am.
This is not the life I desire to live.
So how do I live the life I desire? A life of doing God’s will? I have found that following my bliss may be a better way to discern. When the soul is enlightened by the Law of the Lord, it properly orients itself to happiness. I believe it is impossible to discern what truly makes us happy without the law and commandments of God, the great tutors. However, this law is written on every man’s heart. We are without excuse. It is ultimate self knowledge.
If you know what makes you happy, truly happy- you can know God’s will. You can know yourself.
To watch the movement of the soul is a discipline that must be practiced by those who wish to live the life we desire. A happy life. A life of doing God’s will. For example, when the soul experiences a movement toward strife or anger, it is imperative to examine the current course or thoughts and beliefs. What am I thinking and believing that is causing this movement away from happiness? To repent from a false belief that is causing suffering is to do God’s will.
This is the tragic reality of the unrepentant sinner. To believe that sin will make one happy is the greatest suffering. I’ve never known an unrepentant sinner who was leading a happy life. This is a great training tool for children who are young on the path as well. A mother can ask, “Did that make you happy when you lied? What happened to your heart when you told the lie? Be still and look. What would make you happy now that you have done this?” It never fails, my children know the path back to happiness, and it is always the path of obeying God’s commands. God is ultimate reality. Ultimate bliss.
We were created so that by grace we may be happy with God in heaven. Heaven can be actualized on earth. It is in doing God’s will. Following God’s commands is ultimate happiness. Suffering is the caricature of sin. Suffering exists because we have not yet done God’s perfect will . We are not yet humble. I still experience suffering. However, I know by reading the lives of the saints, and by Christ’s example as well, that I can suffer without suffering. To be that happy… To be perfect…
If the soul is suffering because of unforgiveness, forgive. The joy that comes when we forgive an enemy is the indication that we have done God’s will. This examination of conscience is applicable to all sin. Look where you are unhappy. There is sin there. With this belief, it is easy to understand that to suffer is not the sin, it is our response to our hardship that creates the unhappiness. This is my understanding of, count it all joy.
Sin does not make us happy. If this were true, God would have played a cruel joke. He would have placed us in a reality that ensured our misery, death, and ultimate separation from Him. In contrast, the path to God and living the life we desire is pathed in happiness. This happiness kindles a relationship, likened to a warmness of heart in knowing God in the inner parts. This for me is communion. Friendship.
Follow your bliss. Not like the pagans, but as a child of God- created to be happy with Him in heaven.
This is how to live the life we desire. Heaven on earth. A happy life here and in the world to come.