Updated: Feb 24, 2020
Happiness. It is what everyone looks for, searches for and hungers for. But where do you find happiness? Is it something that you can buy or purchase? Is it something that you can look up on google?
Many people say that happiness comes from spending time with people they love; enjoying a cup of coffee with a friend, watching a movie with a son, daughter or significant other; going to an amusement park with friends or family. Happiness some say comes with spending time in nature, going for a hike or a jog. Do these activities satisfy the human heart? Yes, they do. But only temporarily. Eventually, time at the amusement park will end, the movie watched with a significant other will end, and the cup of coffee will eventually be consumed. So, how does one find happiness that lasts? Or should I say Joy?
Love and Relationships is what brings people happiness, but long lasting joy and happiness comes with having a relationship with God. Yes, you read that correctly and I ask you to continue reading to find out more. God is real and tangible. He is not something that is abstract or off in the heavens where He can't be reached. God is madly in love with you, and wants an intimate and loving relationship. Did you know that You are Loved beyond all the stars and mountains that He created? You can have access to His love and it is only a heartbeat away.
I know there are skeptics out there, maybe even athiests who are reading this right now. Whether your a skeptic or an agnostic, this applies to you and everyone on the planent. There are several factors in why you don't believe or can't feel God's love. One of them is that love may not have been shown to you in your family while growing up. We learn about God's love through the upbringing of our parents. God is one being in three persons and He is A RELATIONSHIP in Himself. God who is God the Father (made heaven and earth), God the Son - Jesus and God the Holy Spirit is one being. The love between the Father and the Son was so great that it created the Holy Spirit. The family here on earth represents the Holy Trinity. The love of a mother and father are so great, that it creates life - a baby! So, if there was abuse whether physical, sexual or verbal (even suttle things) in your family of origin then love is not present. Another factor of why you can't feel God's love is your response to trauma. Bad things that happen to us in our lifetime requires a response, either of forgiveness or the oppisite which is hatred. Unforgiveness is very harmful to the soul because it keeps a person locked in anger and by not forgiving one person, can trickle to not forgiving the next person, and then the next person and so on. Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. Jesus wants us to forgive not just once but many times. In Matthew 18:21-22 it says "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as 7 times? Jesus said to him 'I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven." Good news, is that there is help if you want to forgive others. The sacrament of confession is an excellent way to get help because it is a healing Sacrament that was created by Jesus Himself. Another source of healing that can help with unforgiveness is Unbound Prayer (which identifies the root underneath the unforgiveness).
The next factor that can keep people from knowing God's love, is sin. This is the number one thing that keeps people away. We live in a world that has lost the acknowledgement of sin. It is real and all sin has a root somewhere; something that is underneath it. Many people engage in behaviors that are sinful such as using drugs, drinking to intoxication, stealing, sexual promisciuty, pornography,cheating, envy, gluttony and the list goes on. The reason for engaging in these behaviors are to mask the painful memories some people have. Others, struggle with not feeling accepted, not feeling loved, low self esteem and low self worth. Overall, not feeling good about themselves. So, when a person does not feel good about him/herself that person wants to remedy it by engaging in sinful behaviors to hope to feel better. Sin is an "icky and grouse" feeling that actually leads to more bondage than freedom. It does not make you feel better, and leads you further and further away from God who is LOVE and goodness. Again, there is hope to turn around and go in a different direction. By repenting (confessing your sins) and feeling sorry for what you have done leads a person to ultimate freedom.
God knows you better than you know yourself. He understands why you do the things you do, and why you are engaging in all sorts of behavior. The awesome thing is, that He is there to help you. He meets you where your at. You don't need to be perfect to come and know Him. Jesus wants to heal you, help you, and always loves you (even if you don't Love Him back).
The last factor that may be keeping you from knowing God's love is indifference. What I mean by this, is that things in this world have your attention. Therefore you are precoccupied by many things; distracted and don't think much about God. Maybe you have put Him on the back burner or in a closet somewhere? It is easy to get distracted, especially in the technological world we live in. People are always on their phones, watching the latest show on netlfix and consumed by the internet and youtube. These things are not bad in themselves, but when they consume your life and get in the way of relationships (especially the one with God and other peopole), that causes a problem. These things lead to emptiness. These worldy things are a substitute to the love and goodness you were made for.
There could also be other factors I have not mentioned, that may be keeping you from knowing God's love. Please email me at email@example.com and let me know what your story is. I would love to hear from you.
Again, God's love is a heartbeat away and He is waiting for you. It is never too late to come back to Him, even if it's been a couple years, ten years, a few decades. It doesn't matter. God works outside of time and space. He we will welcome you with open arms and a smile.
The season of Lent is approaching. Ash Wednesday is Feb. 26th. Lent is a time of repentance and coming back to God. Churches have masses in the morning and in the evening on Ash Wednesday. Remember, God is always with you. He wants to be eyelash to eylash with you. Don't settle for a subsitute. The love and acceptance your looking for, can only be found in a relationship with God.
About the Author: Donna L. Marotto is Director of Faith Formation/Youth Minister at a Catholic Church; a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and a Lay (3rd order) Franciscan.