When I look back to the time periods I’ve felt happiest, I’d say they are times when I am in intense pursuit of some goal—knowledge, skill, project, service, mission, etc. Before somebody lectures me about happiness vs. joy, I want to say that I am not talking about joy. I’m talking about happiness–excitement, exhilaration, smile-on-my-face happy.
These are the moments I’ve felt most alive, as if every cell in my body aligns to the same direction. There’s a reason to stay up late and wake up early, and everything else I do is more efficient so I can free up time for the pursuit.
Part of the fun is brainstorming with like-minded people, when one idea feeds another in a chain reaction, exploding to… something awesome. Or not. The ideas may totally tank. Regardless, the process is fun.
A pursuit has the ability to orient an entire life to a certain directionality. Everything counts; every moment is infused with a purpose. I can’t think of any better way to live.
It would be a sad day when one finds nothing else to pursue. It’s like being on top of the highest mountain and finding there is no other peak to climb. While the satisfaction may last a while, boredom will surface from a long-term state of sameness. And boredom is the opposite of happiness.
I’ve definitely experienced this unhappiness. The thought of resting and settling down a bit after a phase/pursuit ends is nice, but detrimental if prolonged. I’m not sure I can live without some kind of overarching pursuit.
The good thing is that there’s always something to pursue. Life is too big and too vast to run out of goals.
I’m writing this to remind myself to always live and strive for something—something good, something better.
I belong to a community of faith—the Seventh-day Adventist faith—that is presently having its quinquennial, worldwide conference in San Antonio, TX. I am not in San Antonio, but I too want to celebrate my identity. So here are the reasons on why I love being an Adventist.
I love being an Adventist because it gives me a sense of identity as an individual and as part of a people. It sheds light on who I am in the eyes of God and on humanity in the eyes of God. The elaborate plan of salvation as shown in the sanctuary system tells me the high regard that God puts on human souls, and the length and depth of His efforts to redeem a seemingly hopeless race.
Moreover, being a Seventh-day Adventist tells me where I am in human history and subsequently, my role here on earth. It comes with a high and ambitious mission that requires every talent and dedication.
Sanctity of Time
I love being an Adventist because it teaches me the discipline of quietness and rest. The gift of the Sabbath, the sanctity of time, tells me that humanity is not here just to do, but also to be. More importantly, to be with God. Silence and stillness is not easy to master, especially in a hyperactive world, but the Sabbath comes every week, wooing me to practice and enjoy true rest.
This precious time provides a space for awe, reverence, and wonder in my life. And I have come to believe that a life without wonder is an unhappy one. The moments when I am overwhelmed with beauty and grandeur are most refreshing, and in the Sabbath, a door is opened to access the wonder that is God.
I love being an Adventist because I have many opportunities to be reminded of my relationship with God in tangible ways. The opportunities come whenever I eat (or don’t eat), drink (or don’t drink), and work (or don’t work). I love that a relationship with God is not just a mental assent, but is a day-to-day reality. I learn that any loving relationship has requirements, and the fulfillment of these determines whether a relationship grows or deteriorates.
I love that God has something required of me, among which are to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with Him. It elevates my existence and dignity as a human being, knowing that I can do something to please God. He is not indifferent to my works.
Everything I do and don’t do, every initiative and restraint, is an opportunity to say “I love You” and that “You are Lord over me.” It infuses every aspect of life and gives meaning to the daily, sometimes mundane, things.
I love that Adventism demands something of me. A faith that is not worth giving all is not worth having, and a commitment without requirements is questionable. Adventism believes something more in me, calling me to a life that’s not ordinary, and I gladly respond, Yes!
In the wake of the South Carolina shooting, NPR broadcasted several short interviews with those who personally knew Rev. Clementa Pinckney. The one thing they kept on mentioning was his voice—how wonderful and impactful his voice was.
Curious, I looked up a video of him speaking. This particular video was from an event at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in 2013, in which, hauntingly, he stated that sometimes one had to die for a cause of justice. He died in this very same place. Watch the last few minutes of this video.
I can’t remember the last time I was awed by a voice. What a tremendous gift this man had. This voice had the power to move and influence people, and he did use it in ministry as well as in public service.
What a loss for humanity. I’m sorry to have only known of him after his death, but I’m still inspired by his dedication to humanity and the society he was a part of.
In this terrible incident, a bright spot collided with a dark spot in human history. Tremendous love collided with tremendous hate. How very perplexing.