From the moment I met my wife, Tara, I gave her an impossible task. I gave her the responsibility of making me happy. The result was disappointment for me, frustration for her, and a relationship that neither of us expected or wanted.
I’d love to write a redemption story here and tell you that Tara and I have the model marriage today, but the reality is that like any marriage, ours is messy, often broken, and too often unfulfilling. And the reason is very simple:
I gave her the responsibility of making me happy rather than living to make her happy. Rather than living to serve her, I placed an unfair burden on her that no human being can live up to…and I didn’t even tell her.
I’ll admit it. The title of this post is deceptive. Many of you read it and probably did a double take. Did I really just tell you that you’ll never be happy? No…I told you that you will never find happiness.
The pursuit of happiness
Seven years ago, I was pursuing Tara, who is now my wife. Every day was a new adventure. One day I sent her flowers, the next I wrote her a poem, the next I’d surprise her at her house when she got off work. Every single day I did something intentionally to deepen our relationship.
I never expected for her to just accidentally fall in love with me. I never expected for her to just find love in her heart.
The same is true for happiness. You will never just find it. It must be created intentionally. It must be worked for.
You’ve reached the end of your rope.
You’re burned out on your chasing your dream. It used to fill your life with excitement and promise. Now feels like it’s sucking the life out of you.
So what do you do when you’re burned out with your dream?
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I received an email from a friend recently who was burning out. My friend is a dreamer and a go-getter. He works hard at his day job and hard at his dream. He wakes up early and goes to bed late. And in between he hustles.
And I know something about him that sometimes he forgets, like we all do. I know that it will be worth it and that he will achieve great things.
Can you imagine if we reduced the divorce rate in America by 99.999%?
We’ve all heard that approximately 50% of marriages in the U.S. end in the divorce. But what if it was only 0.001%?
If you’re married and want to stay married, you need to read this.
If you’re not married and want to have a successful marriage, don’t gloss over this. You need to know this for when you do get married. It will improve your chances of staying happily married by a factor of 500,000 (seriously).
So I’ll cut straight to the chase.
50% of all marriages fail. But there is something you can do to reduce that chance to 0.001%:
No really, that’s it. No classes. No books. You don’t have to buy anything or set aside hours a day to talk. Just pray together.
Who needs your love?
Like many people, my wedding included a reading from Chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians (AKA, the “Love Chapter”).
I’m pretty sure that every Christian wedding since approximately 125 A.D. has required at least portions of this chapter to be read. If it were not read, I am pretty sure the part of the wedding in which the pastor asks, “does anyone have any objections,” would have been followed by someone interjecting that the obligatory reading of 1 Corinthians 13 was missing.
I always took that chapter as “the marriage chapter.” It was great advice for husbands and wives, but it stopped there. I never applied these principles to other forms of leadership or relationships.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
“My business is failing.”
With a look of resignation and defeat, Tom uttered those pitiful words to me in early spring.
The future is undetermined. If you talk about your future negatively, you prophesy your own downfall.
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By summer, it had become a reality. His business had failed. He was down to his last few dollars and looking for work.
According to him, it had “been failing” for two years, since the economy made a turn for the worse.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but Tom was speaking prophetic words. He was speaking future events into current reality.
Saying “my business is failing” is, in its essence, a prediction of future events. It is no different from saying, “I am going to eat.” That is a predictor of future behavior and activity. Hours later I “will have eaten.”
To suggest “my business is failing” is to declare that at some point in the future it “will have failed.”
“My marriage is failing” is no different than saying “I’m going to be divorced.”
“My child is failing math” tells me that the end result will have been an “F” in math.
If Tom were to tell me now what he told me then, I would respond much differently than I did then. Here is how the conversation might go today:
Tom: My business is failing.
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