Isabella views the world negatively. She often behaves as if she believes she is cursed, that life is not good. She sees the negative around her. She does not take joy in the flowers, the sky, anything. She does notice things like there being a lot of trash on the street, or that someone is late meeting her. When Isabella is given a special treat, such as receiving a nice present or going to an enjoyable movie she is temporarily less unhappy. Let’s say that she lives life usually at a negative 20 or -20. When she is given something special or has a good experience, she moves up to only 0. At this point, she sees some good and bad in the world, about equal perceptions of each. But she feels good because it is better than mostly seeing the bad.
Valeria lives life at 0. She sees both good and bad and would be described by others as stable, neutral, experiencing neither particular joy or particular sorrow on a given day. Thus, when she experiences something special, she is at +20. She would describe herself as truly happy during that time. She goes on vacation somewhere fun and really enjoys her time there. She receives a surprise gift and is happy. This higher state of happiness, however, fades and she is back to her neutral self. She is back to her usual routine, but wishes she was still on vacation and thus happy again.
Gabriela lives life at +20. She strives to always seeing the best. She is not naïve and she knows that there is bad and evil in the world. She literally always stops and smells the roses. She sees God’s creation in everything, even things that other people consider mundane. She is even capable of seeing the possible good in a negative situation, such as losing a job that she never really liked in the first place and saying “Well, this forces me to get a job that will ultimately make me happier” Some “accuse” her of being a Pollyanna. Some even dislike her because she is “just so happy.” Some think she must be hiding a darker side.
Now, it is possible from my blogs, to think that I live some sort of ascetic life. “Ascetic” is defined by Meriam-Webster as “practicing strict self-denial as a measure of personal and especially spiritual discipline.” I do not go on vacations because I am so happy here in my suburb of St. Louis with all the true beauty that is certainly around me. So let me come clean. In clothes, I like Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren Polo, Lacoste sweaters, and truly like shopping at Nordstrom. For outer wear, I wear mostly Eddie Bauer. Although not common in my life, I like staying on the club level in upscale hotels. I like restaurants with a certain ambience and superior attention to detail. I have been blessed to have traveled to 12 different countries, some more than once. I have greatly enjoyed visiting these countries, seeing terrains and sights I do not normally see, eating food I do not usually have, and going to museums and performances. The thing I enjoy the most in other countries is meeting other people, getting to know how they live and think.
Yes, I take joy in my everyday life. But that does not mean that I do not seek out other experiences. In the Bible, God speaks of people being rewarded in life with plenty. With Job, he not only restores his lost treasures, but provides more than he had before.
Deuteronomy 8:7-10 (NASB) “For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills: a land of wheat and barley of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you will eat food without scarcity, in which you will not lack anything; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper”
Later God warns that these blessings are a gift, not be taken for granted. Deuteronomy 8: 11- 14 (NASB) “Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes, which I am commanding you today; otherwise when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God who brought you out of from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”
Thus, both the everyday AND are extra comforts and special joys are equally gifts from God. Let’s now get back to these three women- Isabella, Valeria, and Gabriela.
Recall that - Isabella lives at -20 and when has special joys is at 0
Valeria lives at 0 and when has special joys is at +20
Gabriela lives at +20 What do you expect her to be with special joys?
Now those of you fond of your pattern recognition skills would predict that she would rise to +40.
You would be WRONG.
Gabriela, with special joys, extraordinary experiences, she goes to +80!!!
Why? Because God does not seek to simply “add” to your life, He seeks to “multiply” your life. If you live your life in full grace and appreciation of God, then the extra pleasures He provides you will appreciate and relish more than the typical person. By finding beauty in everything around you every day, you experience higher highs for the special events. That present from someone. That great musical performance. That party someone throws from you. And yes, being able to afford the clothes you really like, staying on the club level of a hotel, great food at a great restaurant, and a dream vacation. Living your life in full appreciation of what is around you is a recipe for enjoying the special moments even more. Thus, not living in a deficit that needs to be climbed out of occasionally. Not living just surviving, with no real highs or lows- neutral.
God is in the everyday. God is in the special. God is everywhere.