January 5, 2012
Are you happy?

That's a big question, isn't it?  And it's tempting to brush it off with a "Yes, of course; I'm very happy."  Maybe we feel guilty for saying no because we know there are people in the world who are living with extreme hardship, and here we are with food on the table and a roof overhead.

Being happy is not the same as being content, is it? Happiness is fleeting, and depends on circumstances, while contentment has more to do with a deeper state of being, a decision. Perhaps the question should rather have been:  Are you content?

Have you made good choices for your life? Are you in the right place? Do you have regrets?

These thoughts are tumbling through my mind lately because of a person - a woman - I spent time with this Christmas. She could not answer yes to either question.  She is neither happy nor content, and both to such an extent that everyone in her life knows it, and feels it.  They have to live with her discontented unhappiness every day. Being with her was miserable, both because her dissatisfaction with her life was palpable, and because I felt so sad for her.  Though she had raised three children to be fine people and ticked all the boxes of being a good Catholic, there was the sense of a life wasted.

She had been raised to believe that becoming a religious was the very best thing she could do, that marriage was only a distant, less desirable, less holy second option. She didn't become a nun and instead married a man who didn't really know her but expected something very specific from his life with her which she was unable to give him. Now, fifty years later they are still married, but dysfunctional would be a fair assessment of their relationship.  She has held on to her disappointments, nurtured them, even treasured them, believing if only she had been a nun instead, life would be great.

How horrible. Maybe she would have been fulfilled as a religious. It could be that was her true vocation and she somehow got off track and allowed herself to be coerced into a marriage she in no way wanted. It is just as likely that she wouldn't have been happy in that version of her life either because she is fundamentally incapable of being pleased.  Who knows?  I pray that she finds peace before the end of her days -- within herself and with her family who have suffered from her unhappiness.

That prayer led me to think of all you women out there.  I think of you often in the many different roles women of today fill.  It can be difficult for some of us to find our way because the traditional route of womanhood no longer exists in much of society.  No longer is it as clear cut as: either you get married or you enter a convent. The world has been thrown open to us, but without a map it is very easy to get lost.

I feel like I'm still figuring out how to live my life in a way that honours God with the gifts I've been given, within my single state, without vows to a husband or a community. I don't yet feel that I understand what I am supposed to do, my purpose. At the same time I'm grateful to be able to say I have no regrets. I don't live with the notion that I missed an opportunity, or missed out on my opportunity for fulfilment. I am content with my lot in life, and am ready to go when God says, "Go!" - one of the privileges of the single life.

After visiting with my unhappy friend, I found myself hoping that my women friends, all you readers, Catholic women in general, take responsibility for where you are in life, for the choices you make, and the many blessings those choices have brought into your life. I pray that you are content, and that there is peace in your life... for the good will of all you know and love.

Rembrandt - Portrait of Saskia with a flower

2 comments:

  1. What a beautifully articulated reminder to live our lives with intention and thanksgiving. Whatever direction our life has taken, wherever it may have led us, for whatever reason it took us in that direction: God is HERE and life can [and even: should] be good. What a shame it would be to allow all our life's days to simply slip away from us, while we do what we can to wallow in our disappointments and hopes of a 'better' day. We were created to live in a state of freedom, not slavery. And though we may have to endure hardships and difficult days, that doesn't take away the inherent good fruits that we are meant to reap on each of them. May God grant us the grace to foster a grateful disposition within ourselves; a disposition which can make all the difference, each and every day.

    ReplyDelete

About



What is a woman? What does it mean to be feminine? There is softness and hardness, compassion and ferocity. There is contentment and adventure, freedom and service. We're conundrums, especially to ourselves, but we all, in some way, possess beauty, creativity, intuition and love. We were made for love, and we are loved, cellulite and all. Here we aim to show every woman the richness and beauty of her own femininity and explore current issues relating to women in our world. We also wish to share our own experiences - exploring the joys and challenges of stay-at-home moms and single professionals and everyone in between. Welcome! So glad you're here!

Follow


Follow by Email

Search

Popular Posts

Powered by Blogger.