My older boys found the leftover New Year’s Eve fortune cookies while my youngest and I were at hockey. The wrappers littering the TV tables gave it away. I said, “So, what did you get for your fortunes?”
“Mine said something about being rich and famous,” my oldest said.
“Mommommom, let me read you mine: ‘Have faith. Happiness will be yours.”
“Hmmm. That’s a good one,” I said, distractedly, as I started picking up cookie and gum wrappers. “Boys, can you get your dishes out of the living room and get your basketball stuff together– we have like 20 minutes before we have to leave. You need to eat something besides cookies and gum and I have to take care of the dog.”
“Well, I just took him out and he peed,” my middle son said.
“You did? That’s great -- thanks!”
I bolted up to my office to check my email to make sure the message I’d sent to the vet about the dog’s upcoming appointment went through. It had. Then I went back downstairs and started gathering up all the shoes, hockey pads, and the trash can to stash in the downstairs bathroom. I didn’t want the dog to do anything naughty while we were gone. “You didn’t shower,” I said to my youngest.
“Yes, I didn’t. I’ll do it later.” Fortunately he didn’t need Febreze® as much as the contents of his hockey bag did, which were mostly all out on the porch, if they weren’t in the bathroom.
“Boys, please. Shut off those electronics, get your drinks, and get out to the car.”
I herded everyone outside amidst mild chaos, told the dog to ‘guard the palace,’ and locked the door. We were at the end of the street when I realized I didn’t have my phone.
I don’t want to say I panicked, but I kind of did. I could’ve turned around then but I couldn’t even remember exactly where it was, so depending on how long it took to find, we risked being rushed or late getting from point A to point B. I convinced myself I’d be fine being disconnected from calls, email, and apps for four hours, which is how long we’d be gone altogether after going from point B to point C where the boys had a second basketball game.
As we were driving along, I realized I had left my GPS behind as well. At that point, I knew I’d have to go back to the house. I was fine with getting from point A to B, and in fact we were early, but not confident about getting from point B to point C, given my experience the last time I’d gone through the Drum Hill Rotary. If I’d at least had my phone, I could have got away with no GPS, as my phone has a map app. I dropped the Bigs off and headed back home.
It was quiet in the car with just me and my youngest, since he unearthed a Gameboy that had been tucked into some crevice in the back seat. I had a little time to think. I thought about how I still had to – no, “get to,” I corrected myself – write the invocation for church the next day, and when was I going to have time to come up with anything clever given our sports schedule and dinner and movie plans we had for that evening? I’d had all sorts of ideas during the previous week. Maybe I’d be able to write something that tied in with the scripture or one of my devotionals from the week (delivered electronically to my phone via my Bible app), or perhaps that was relevant to the Lord’s Prayer itself. But as quickly as the ideas came, they went. Then I thought again about my middle son’s fortune cookie.
“Have faith. Happiness will be yours.”
Hmmm. That could be interpreted a couple of ways.
It could mean “don’t give up hope, someday you’ll be happy…”
How many of us have thought, “I’ll be happy when I can go on vacation,” “I’ll be happy when I lose that last 10 pounds,” “I’ll be happy when I get a promotion, a new job – or just any job.” “I’ll be happy when I retire.” “I’ll be happy when it’s Friday – couldn’t possibly be happy on a Monday.” “I’ll be happy when I finish this project, get a better car, move into a bigger house, in a different neighborhood. “ “I’ll be happy someday…”
Or it could mean “if you have faith in God, you will be happy, despite your circumstances.”
We can be happy no matter what, right now, today. We can practice an attitude of gratitude and even everyday things can bring great joy. My middle son doesn’t mind folding laundry and does more than his share – he has told me he likes how it smells. Upon discovering that we had four gallons of milk after my last trip to the supermarket, he announced, “I love it when our fridge is full.” We thank God for our home, our family, the food on our table, our dog, the chance to play sports, the games won and even the games lost since we’ve done our best…we try to remember to thank God for anything we can think of.
Later, after basketball, I asked my middle son, “You know that fortune you got this morning, ‘Have faith. Happiness will be yours’– what do you think it means?”
Without hesitation he answered, “It means if you have faith in God you will be happy.”
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”
~1 Thessalonians 5:18