Marie Alvero is a former missionary to Africa and Mexico. She currently lives a happy, busy life with her husband and children in Central Texas, USA.
A few years ago, it came to me that I had a superficial relationship with the Bible. I was a bit taken aback, since I had spent my entire life as a follower of the Bible. I knew many verses, stories, and interpretations like the back of my hand, but I realized there was a whole lot of stuff I had no idea about.
Jesus and His disciples were in the temple observing people giving their offerings. A wealthy man approached the coffer, drawing as much attention as he could to the fact that he was giving a hefty sum. Following him was a widow. As quickly as she could she dropped in two mites, the smallest denomination of coin she could have given. The disciples muttered amongst themselves about how pitiful her offering was, but to their astonishment, Jesus told them she had given more than anyone else, for she had given all that she had.1
One Friday evening a few weeks ago, my husband and I decided to set out some lounge chairs in our driveway and let our neighbors know we would be out there with drinks and snacks. I raided my fridge and found some chips and salsa, carrots and hummus, a tiny wedge of cheese, and some leftover M&Ms.
I was one of the hopefuls that started last year with a brand-new planner. 2020 was full of promise, and I thought I had some control over the direction of the year. I had a long planned/postponed trip to see my family slotted for early spring, some home improvement plans, a saving/financial plan, plans for family vacations, etc.
Life is a constant stream of contradictions—things to hold on to, to let go of, to fight for, to give up. We’re told to try harder, to give ourselves a break, to loosen up, to make better choices, to just say yes, to just say no, to settle, to not settle. And to make matters worse, there’s always someone saying something like “just listen to your heart.” Right!
As I write this a very good friend of mine is struggling with wave after wave of hard news. Her husband has been laid off from a job he held for 27 years, she had a suspicious mammogram, their home AC has gone out, and they had to put down a family pet. No tragedies, yet, but plenty of hard stuff—the stuff that makes you ask “Why, God?” or “Are You there, God? Do You notice these things? Do You care?”
Not long ago, my social media exploded with the news that a high-profile couple had announced their divorce. This power couple had established a following as “relationship gurus,” with books, websites, videos, podcasts, numerous guest appearances and endorsements, and a very expensive “couple’s conference.” People who had bought into their empire felt betrayed, lied to, and confused.
I read something the other day that’s been running through my mind ever since: “The system you have in place today is set up to get exactly the results you are getting today.” Since then, I’ve tried to challenge myself to have different reactions than I would typically have.
Last Christmas I was a few months into a new job. My new office was an hour from my home, my hours were from 2:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., and I worked on Saturdays. I was always exhausted and out of sync with everyone in my life. And I had to work on Christmas Day!
Who would have thought that I’d be writing an article on the topic of happiness and satisfaction after everything that we have been through this year due to the COVID-19 virus? After having experienced so much insecurity and uncertainty in the air, how could that be a time to think about happiness?