“When…then I’ll be happy”: The Lie We Accept

You know the feeling; a moment of pause, a moment of reflection and you wonder “Am I where I’m supposed to be?” You take a short analysis of your job, your paycheck, education status, living situation, relationships and there’s a dull empty feeling followed by a sigh.

I don’t know if it’s a characteristic of American culture or human nature, but in sighs of hundreds of discontent people we hear the refrain of “I’m just not happy.” This of course means that something is wrong and we decide something needs to change. So we start with what we can change. We change our lifestyles, our eating habits, our jobs, our relationships; we say “When ‘x’ happens, then I’ll be happy.”

When happiness evades us, in the best case scenario we’re trapped in a cycle of melancholy, in the worst case scenario we label it and medicate it as depression. As Christians it gets worse. We think, we’re missing something deeper; we’re not praying enough, we’re not reading our Bible enough, God is displeased with us, or has simply left us.

Our eyes are on the mirage of the future as we look to the “when”; “When I get the degree I want”; “When I get the job in my field”; “When I get the home our family needs”; “When the kids start sleeping more”; “When this work project is completed”; “When I get the raise coming to me”; “When my schedule slows down more.” When, when, when…THEN I’ll be happy. Maybe we don’t call it happiness, maybe we say content, rested, spiritually healthy, freed-up, etc. The “When…then” life is a deceptive lie. There will be no amount of ‘then’ accomplished that will satisfy the darkness of your soul.

There will be no amount of 'then' accomplished that will satisfy the darkness of your soul. Click To Tweet

Even when ‘then’ comes and you accomplish ‘IT’ in your life, wholeness and satisfaction is fleeting and elusive. We are daily tempted to be discontent, unsatisfied, emotionally melancholy, depressed, and refusing to rejoice; only focusing on what life is not and aggressively seek the next ‘when’.

Circumstances are a deceptive excuse for the status of our soul-health. There is no level of ‘made it’ that will make you happy or leave you content. The ‘when’s’ rob us of today and rob us of joy. Though ‘the dark night of the soul’[1] certainly comes to every Christian, I leave you with this caution:

The 'when's' rob us of today and rob us of joy. Click To Tweet

If you’re looking for a well of living water[2], you’ll be looking in the Sahara Dessert if you seek it in your circumstances being perfectly aligned.

John 4:13-14
“Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.””

[1] Term coined by St. John of the Cross in his poem “Dark Night of the Soul”

[2] John 4