Key to Happiness Part One

Key to Happiness
Key to Happiness

A few months ago I received news that my friend had died, we were the same age, 38. It got me to thinking about the kind of life I was living. My friend was vivacious, outgoing, loveable. I was introverted, antisocial and downright mean sometimes. I had not always been like this. When my friend and I met in high school it was our similarities that drew us together. However, the course of events in my life changed me.

I decided, upon much self-examination to make a change. I set about making an action  plan to make a better me. I grabbed a legal pad and pen and sat down to write down the steps I should take to change my life into one that I would find fulfilling. I drew a blank! I sat there for several minutes and could not think of a single step to write down. After much deliberation, I gave up and went to bed.

The next morning, I boarded the bus with my usual surly expression, glared at people and didn’t bother to answer the overly chirpy ones who sang their ‘good mornings’. I hid my face with the free newspaper available at the subway station so that I wouldn’t have to look at anyone and I put my earphones in so I wouldn’t have to hear their chatter. A little girl looked at and hid behind her mother’s shoulder. Could my expression be that frightening? I decided to go back to making my action plan when I got home.

I took out my legal pad and pen once again and said down to address the task as planned. Someone once said that the key to happiness was to heal the soul. The soul to me was linked to spirituality. When I was growing up, my mother used to take me to church every Sunday. My father, on the other hand, would not set foot in one. Could it be that after being forced to conform to my mother’s beliefs and literally hating it sometimes (had to get up early for service!), I had rebelled subconsciously and taken on my father’s viewpoint?

Step One of my action plan had to be reconnecting with my spirituality! Let’s write that down;

  1. Reconnect with spirituality – heal the soul

The first step to doing this, I thought, was to find a church. I went on the internet and tried to find a church that was nearby. Denomination was not a deciding factor, just proximity. I found a couple and decided over a course of weeks to visit each one and see which one was the ‘right fit’. Well, the first one I visited wasn’t even in English but I persevered and sat through the entire program, nodding when everyone else did. I shook hands and smiled at the end of it, then beat a hasty retreat. Clearly that was a bust. On to the next one!

My next destination was much better! I understood every word and liked some of what was said BUT I didn’t get that sense of belonging that I wanted to be besieged by (sigh). Once again, I nodded when everyone else nodded, shook hands and smiled and beat a hasty retreat. On to the next one, I had two left to visit. At my next church-hopping destination, I fell in love with the pastor. What a warm and friendly man! I was floored by the way he greeted me, as if I’d been a member of his flock for years. He even introduced me to some members of the church, all the while using my name as if we were old friends. I decided that this experience warranted a repeat visit! This time I nodded because I wanted to, smiled and shook everone’s hands and hung around a little after church.

Despite feeling like I had found where I wanted to be, I decided to visit the last church on my list, so as to cover all the bases.  The last church was like a little taste of home. It was the kind of church I grew up in and the familiarity of the experience was good for me. I even remembered some of the songs and sang them fervently! I was amazed that even though I found this sense of familiarity at the last church, my mind kept going back to the church where I felt accepted. I decided to revisit that one the following Sunday.

I arrived on time and walked in with a smile, the pastor was at the door greeting people, he turned and saw me and greeted me with a warm smile and strong handshake, and he REMEMBERED MY NAME! I was beaming from ear to ear until he announced that he had some news to tell the congregation. He had been asked to go and be the pastor for a branch of the church in Brazil and he had accepted. He said this was where he was originally from and it was a good way to reconnect with his roots.  After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I nodded when everyone else nodded, smiled and shook hands with everyone and met with him after church to express my disappointment but to wish him all the best. My fascination with this church was over just like that. I shared my plight with a friend who told me to keep searching and that even if he had stayed it still wasn’t the right one because I was going solely for the pastor. Hmmmmm….

Sooooo, it was back to square one with the churches. I decided to give the familiar one a try.

Step Two of my Action Plan was to volunteer.

  1. Volunteer

You know, give of myself, make my community a better place and all that. Canadians are known for their volunteer work. Now the perfect avenue for volunteerism is through the church. They feed the less fortunate or sick or shut-ins all the time. I decided to be gung-ho about this. Whatever they wanted me to do, I’d be there!

(To be continued….)