I love the wisdom of Father Thomas Keating as he talks about those things we strive to do and have, which we are convinced will make us happy.
I was reviewing my life and the latest of my own programs for happiness. There is The Thin Program. This program is all about calorie counting and careful discipline, and tells me that if I fit into my clothes well, I will be happy.
The Exercise Program is related to the above, but emphasizes how far and fast I can run, how fit I am, how much stamina I have. The program promises that if I am fit, I will be happy.
The Publishing Program. This is part of my Amazing Writer Program. A while after I get something into print, this program gets uneasy and cries, "More! More!" If I am published I will be happy.
The Fashionista Program. I do collect cute clothes. I adore interesting jewelry. I've been known to fuss over my hair. All these are components of the Fashionista Program, complete with the oath: "If I look good all the time, I'll be happy."
The Successful Offspring Program. This program started back when my children were precocious adorable babies, and I got their overflow attention when they did cute things. This program offers: If my kids are superachievers (or at least above average like the children of Lake Woebegone), then I'll be happy.
I've also got the Fulfilling Marriage program, the Impressive Career Program, the Witty and Charming Personality Program and the Beautiful House Program. Here's one beckoning me now: The Insightful and Well-Followed Blogger Program.
Oh! I almost forgot my favorite program of all: The Everything Program! This one says that if I can run every one of these programs, then I will be happy.
I want programs to distract me from the heartache of loss that living has brought. To make me feel good enough to earn God's favor. To distract me from my inadequacies and shortcomings and... my very yearning for God.
Our entire society is fiddling with its programs. But fulfillment comes from being, from living and loving - not from doing, earning and possessing. My happiness springs from the Eternal One, who doesn't require I perform, only that I acknowledge the Holy Presence.
I don't care how the inner programs lie to us, or how the external forces dazzle. Turn off these commercials, whenever you find them, and you will exercise true spiritual awareness.
Here's my prayer...
God you know my programs don't work. I strained something in my ankle while running, so there goes program one and two. My kids need my support and love, not my expectations of achievement. House? Dusty, in program ten while I'm striving over program eight. I'm here. You're here. You accept me just like this, and You are all I need. Thank you.