You're probably thinking "Wow. she's horrible", right? How can I not always care that my son is happy? Didn't I write a journal saying how much I loved hearing his little laugh and that it could instantly brighten the darkest of days? Hypocrite!
Okay, let me explain the title of this post. I do not care if my child is happy if it means it will or could hurt him, derail him of growing or becoming more independent, negatively affect his health, cause him to become spoiled or a "brat" and/or cause him to be in a state of sin.
An example of this is that it seems that my son loves to put himself in harm’s way. For a while I was convinced that his goal was to get hurt as much as possible by the end of each day. Falling off the bed? He tries to get as close to the edge as possible. Busy traffic on the street? He runs as fast as possible to the end of the driveway or sidewalk. Gate at the top of the stairs not properly latched? Let me open it and catapult myself down the stairs. (This one happened and ripped years, if not decades, off my life! Side note: he is perfectly okay, thank GOD!) With no regard for his health or well-being, each time I try to keep my precious boy out of harm’s way, he gets upset. I can't explain it, but I surmise that he thinks he is missing out on something fun and exciting happening in the middle of our street.
Similarly, God does not care if His children are happy if it means that our source of happiness might cause us to sin or be led astray from him.
Looking back on my life, I believe that God held me back from some experiences that, to me, may have seemed fun and exciting, but would have led me further away from Him. Of course, when God kept me from these experiences, I became upset and couldn't always see His greater plan right away.
Another example of me not caring about my son's happiness is keeping cookies from him. My son sometimes tries to get snacks right before dinner. I get it, he's hungry and while dinner is right around the corner, he can't possibly wait any longer. I try to schedule snack time so that it is perfectly timed so that it will neither affect his appetite but will keep him satisfied until dinnertime. Unfortunately, this does not always happen and there are days when he eats his snack too early or doesn't want one at all, for whatever reason. When this happens, a meltdown usually happens before I can get dinner on the table and into his little belly. Meltdowns are fast and furious and apple slices or whole grain crackers will not extinguish them. Only cookies will. While giving him a cookie would certainly make him happy, it will most likely ruin his appetite for dinner.
Of course, one cookie before dinner does not sound like a big deal and in the grand scheme of things, it isn't. I have given him a cookie before dinner on rare occasions, however, my husband and I are trying to instill healthy habits in him and cookies before dinner is certainly not a good way to do this.
Just as parenting isn’t always easy, sometimes being Catholic can be perceived as being difficult also. There are various "rules" that we follow. However, if you consider each rule and see why God wants us to follow it, the happiness that we think will come with not following the rule fades and the glory that will come from following the rule shines brightly.
An example of this is abstaining from eating meat on Fridays during the Lenten season and on Ash Wednesday. Sure, eating a bacon cheeseburger for dinner on a Friday during Lent will certainly make me happy, even if it does not benefit my waistline. But when you consider why Catholics abstain from meat on Friday (and Ash Wednesday), the happiness that comes from eating a bacon cheeseburger, to me at least, becomes insignificant.
"Since it is believed Jesus Christ suffered and died on the cross on a Friday, Christians from the very beginning have set aside that day to unite their sufferings to Jesus." Abstaining from meat on Friday is nothing in comparison to the suffering that Christ endured for us. "The whole point is to make a sacrifice that draws a person closer to Christ, who out of love for us made the ultimate sacrifice a person can make."*
So, while I could indulge in the bacon cheeseburger and have temporary happiness, I would rather suffer (albeit very little) and unite that small sacrifice to that of Jesus and add to my chances of having eternal happiness.
Another example that applies to me and my family (our little love included) is going to Church each Sunday morning. While our family loves going to Church and we look forward to it each week, others look at going to Church as a chore. To those who view Mass as a chore, I implore you to consider the words of Padre Pio: "If people knew the value of the Mass, there would be policemen at the door, to regulate the access to the church every time that a Mass is celebrated."
Skipping church and sleeping in, going to brunch, watching cartoons, going to a sporting event or something else may give you temporary happiness but going to Church for ONE hour each week, being present in the Mass, understanding the privilege of receiving the Blessed Sacrament, which is the Body of Christ, will add to your chances of having eternal happiness.
The Sacrament of Confession is another great example. I have become accustomed to the myriad of feelings that comes with the anticipation of confessing my sins to the priest (in Persona Christi): fear, shame, doubt or anxiety.
It would make me temporarily happy to skip confession and avoid all the uncomfortable feelings that come with the anticipation of confession. But, for me at least, leaving the confessional ALWAYS feels like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. Whether I haven't confessed in years and I have a laundry list of sins or if it was only three days since my last confession and I had only two sins to confess; I feel wonderful and know how good confessing is for my soul. (That “three day” confession happened this summer when I sinned after confessing on a Friday and wanted my slate “wiped clean” before I was about to make my Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary on that following Tuesday.)
While I could list multiple other examples of temporary versus eternal happiness, including National Family Planning versus using birth control, alms-giving versus buying something for yourself, fasting versus eating normally and others, I think you get the picture.
Now, if you would please excuse me, I must interrupt my son from experiencing some happiness, aka stopping him from falling backwards off of the sofa.
How do you keep happiness away from your children? Please share on Facebook.
As always, thank you for reading. God bless you and may the Blessed Virgin Mary be with you always!
Kosloski, Philip. “Here’s Why Catholics Don’t Eat Meat on Fridays during Lent.” Aleteia.org – Worldwide Catholic Network Sharing Faith Resources for Those Seeking Truth, Alteia, 7 Apr. 2017, aleteia.org/2017/03/01/heres-why-catholics-dont-eat-meat-on-fridays-during-lent.