The T's of a Happy Heart

We are all seekers of happiness.  It's our constitutional right, for crying out loud!  And most of our time and energy is spent in some measure in the quest of happiness.  From an infant protesting her empty stomach to a lonely octogenarian hoping for company, we are wired to seek satisfaction. 

While it's true that is very easy to become self-focused in our pursuit of joy, I think the real issue isn't our desire to be happy but rather the problem of where we seek to find it.
  The psalmist tells us

Make glad the soul of Your servant, For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul
Psalm 86:4

I believe God made us to long for joy.  To crave satisfaction and happiness.  To seek it wholeheartedly.

But He wants us to know that only He can provide it. 

What dos it mean To "lift up one's soul"?  It means to be dependent on, to look expectantly toward.  It's so "human" "lift up our soul" to all sorts of things.  A spouse.  A child.  A friend.  A job.  Our appearance (God help us!!) Recognition.  Approval of others.  Being needed/appreciated by others.  Financial security.  Prestige.  Position.  We can even become dependent on "being good" to make us feel satisfied!

But we all know what happens.  Those things we expect to bring us joy, to complete us, to appease the insatiable appetite for significance and value, well, they disappoint.  Our mate seems disinterested and we panic.  Our child's behavior falls short and our parenting comes into question. A  friendship suffers a permanent fracture and the pain of rejection unravels us.  Job loss.  Being overlooked, undervalued and unappreciated.  Beauty and financial stability are so incredibly relative that as soon as either of those imposters appears to be stable, one glance in either direction catapults you into insecurity. 

Ok, so how do we "lift up our soul to the Lord"?  If we agree that He is the only reliable source to satisfy and bring joy, then what do we do, practically speaking, to lift our soul to Him?

If you've read more than one of my posts, you probably have figured out that I like lists.  It's just how I roll.  Helps me sort things out, process, remember.  So here's the list I run through when the gladness of my soul is compromised..... The T's of a happy heart....

1.  Truth.  First of all, I tell myself the truth.  If I'm lacking in the gladness area, I admit it.  Then I ask God to shine HIS truth into my heart.  Have I been lifting up my soul to something else instead of Him?  I run through the usual suspects - family, friendships, performance, need for acceptance, financial issues, etc.  I know the truth that none of these can deliver what I need with any measure of sustainability but am I living in ignorance of that truth?  Am I expecting more of these gifts than they are capable of providing? Is my gladness dependent on the state of someone or something else?
The truth.  That's where I start.

2.  Trust.  After poking around a bit to find where I've lifted up my soul, I purpose to change direction and place my expectations in the only constant of the universe - God Himself.  I speak His truth over and over to my needy heart, reminding myself that He alone is worthy of my trust, my dependence, my expectations.  I refresh my soul with the truth that He loves me, that He is always faithful, and always at work on my behalf in a thousand ways I cannot see.  And that I will walk by faith and not by sight because His Word is true-er than my circumstances. Just like the psalmist expects - trusts - that God is the place to lift up one's soul because He is the one who can gladden it, so do I.  I trust.

3. Thankfulness.  The third "T" is like the last leg on a stool - my quest for gladness won't stand up very well on just two legs.  This last step puts the first two into action.  It's the proof of the pudding, so to speak.  I get the truth.  I trust the truth of who God is.  And then I thank Him.  In totality.  Thankfulness for the gifts He gives that I enjoy as well as the ones I'd probably rather refuse....except that I trust Him.  I trust that even the gifts I think I'd rather not have are still gifts from Him.  And I trust Him that it's just their packaging that makes me think I should shun them.  All the things that He allows into my life are for the purpose of His accomplishing His good - in me, for me, through me.  So I thank Him. For all the gifts.  And as I begin to thank Him, as I lift up my soul in worship of Him, as I acknowledge His worth, my eyes begin to open to more and more good things to praise Him for.  So many blessings flood into my heart that He has given.  Thankfulness has cleared my vision.  My soul is lifted up to Him in expectation, and like a baby bird waiting for its mother to bring food, I am replenished.  Because of gratitude.  Thankfulness.