As the days shorten and the nights stretch out, I naturally spend a more time with old book-friends, like Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. Just like visiting with old people-friends, these reconnections combine the deep comfort of the already known, while also regularly serving up surprising new gems.
This time ’round, the quote above caught my eye. Mrs. Dashwood as counseling Edward early on in the story, as he mopes around concerned about his lack of profession and his imminent departure. The full passage reads:
You are in a melancholy humour and fancy that anyone unlike yourself must be happy. But remember that the pain…will be felt by everybody at times, whatever be their education or state. Know your own happiness. You want nothing but patience; or give it a more fascinating name: call it hope.
(Of course, Mrs. Dashwood has just lost her husband and been turned out of her own home, so this counsel to a rich young visitor is especially generous, and perhaps also serving as counsel to herself.)
The holiday season is upon us, and it’s only in recent years that my ministry friends have gently taught me that this part of the year does not evoke universal joy. Part of this, I expect, is due to our Edward-like tendencies to presume that something is lacking in our lives. Whether it takes the form of FOMO, grass-is-greener syndrome, or plain old-fashioned envy, we can never win at someone else’s happiness game – partly because it is a fiction, and partly because it is not our own.
Dear Honeybees, as we enter this Thankful week in the United States, let’s set the comparisons aside. Let’s know our own happiness, deep and true and full of hope.