The man’s palms dripped with sweat as he gripped the steering wheel. A sinking feeling overtook him when his eyes locked onto the gas gauge. The tank was a little less than a quarter of the way full, and he was going nowhere fast. Would he have enough to get home?
It wasn’t a rational thought, but nonetheless, he believed for a moment that he might run out of gas while sitting completely stationary, waiting to exit the Oakbrook Center mall parking lot. The traffic hadn’t moved for 10 minutes and the gas was dwindling.
It was Christmas Eve, and he knew that this was not a good time to be venturing into the mall. But it was a special circumstance. He needed a special gift for his new bride — one that would bring her happiness.
Today is the last shopping day before Christmas, and if you are like most people (and the man in the story), you have a little more shopping to do. The push is on and you’re hoping that Amazon will be spot-on (and on time) once again. Happiness may not happen in your home if they don’t deliver the phone accessory your teenage daughter has been asking for: the pink selfie stick!
In my house, there were plenty of requests to be filled this year, and we seek to do our best. But I have one confession to make: I was secretly snorting happy that those now-infamous hoverboards started catching fire. The early request from our son to own one got recanted after he heard they were blowing up! When checking to see if Amazon was still selling them, we found that every third or fourth review was similar to this one:
“When I was riding my hoverboard in a mall, it caught on fire and then blew up. Overall, this is a great product and I recommend it for starting campfires.”
Oh, the happiness our toys bring us is very short-lived, isn’t it? With that in mind, I’ve been reflecting on the difference between happiness and joy.
Dr. Daniel Meyer, pastor at Christ Church of Oak Brook
, recently spoke about that difference. He said that “happiness is a sense of well-being based on how you feel; but JOY is a state of well-being based on how God feels about you. Happiness comes from your immediate circumstances; but JOY comes from knowing your eternal condition. Happiness is often competitive or comparative; but JOY is often communal. It is a good we often feel in greater measure when we are with others. It connects us with others.
“Happiness is a relentless pursuit you’re never done with,” he concluded, “but JOY is more like an in-breaking gift that stays with you, filling you with wonder and gratitude.”
It’s been one heck of a year, with many heartaches and celebrations for me personally and for our community and nation. A very dear friend of mine died of cancer this year, leaving his wife and four beautiful children behind. It was a year that lacked a lot of happiness, quite frankly. So when the Christmas season arrived, I needed to hear, remember and reflect on these truths again.
Thinking of it in that context, I realize that, even with difficult times, this year has not lacked the joy that community brings. The ones we connect with and do life with have brought so much joy and happiness to our family … and I hope you have experienced that in your community as well.
The man with the sweaty palms made it out of the mall parking lot and arrived safely home with his present in hand. Unfortunately, the boots that he had picked out especially for his new bride were a size too small! She appreciated the thought, though … and was happy it wasn’t a toaster.
The angel of the Lord declared to the shepherds, “I bring you good news that will CAUSE great JOY for all the people” (Luke 2:10). May this Christmas bring you great joy. A joy that can never be taken away … a joy that can be shared with those with less, those who are lost and those who need help.
Mike is a village of Clarendon Hills
resident; husband; Indian Princess; Indian Guide Dad; a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker. Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area. It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings. He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents and even a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”.