Gung Hay Fat Choy!
If you are Chinese, you have probably heard this the umpteenth time this week. While couples were injesting chocolate candy on Valentine’s Day, Chinese families were wearing red for a different reason. The lunar calendar turned a new page on February 14 — Happy Chinese New Year!
Actually, the words — Gung Hay Fat Choy! — literally means, “Wish you mega wealth!”
As I kid, I loved getting money in “Lai See” (translated “fortune favor”). Chinese tradition claims that grown-ups who give away red packets of money will trigger a movement of moola in the new year for themselves and family members.
Eureka! We’d scream and holler with visions of cavity-creating candy, dancing in our heads.
The Problem With Happiness
As an adult now, I look back fondly on those memories. Life was simple when good fortune could fit into a red envelope.
Happiness is a lot more complicated.
We all want to be happy today, not tomorrow. At the same time, we are all hoping for something different or new somewhere in the future.
We are restless creatures, aren’t we? Always wanting more?
Some may offer killing the want and saying there is no more.
Somehow, I don’t believe that is what Jesus meant when He said,
“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
or when Paul, the apostle said,
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” Ephesians 3:20
I Got Humble
I have been asking God a question recently.
How can I hope for a better tomorrow, while being content with today?
I’d keep trying new ideas to affect changes, but I’d soon end up discouraged, seeing myself trip up over old thought patterns or just plain bad habits.
God gave me an answer a week ago that surprised me.
To do the things I wanted to do — to be the person I know God wants me to be this year — I needed to stop trying to change my way.
I needed to confess my inability to change. I can’t make myself better inside, even if I improved the way I did things or said things.
I needed humility.
I’m not talking about the kind of humility that makes you feel like a worm. Being humble doesn’t mean being driven by guilt, thinking of yourself as a nobody.
No. God wanted me to become love-worthy humble.
Jesus, said Himself —
“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jesus, Matthew 11:29
I Got Grace
This kind of humble results in motivation that won’t quit, optimism that’s real about where I’m at. It sits opposite to blind fanaticism in positive thinking.
God wants to give me grace. Undeserved happiness.
I received grace the moment I went down on my knees and said, “I need you more.”
“But He gives a greater grace.
Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6
I humbled myself and I asked for the grace —
— to stand up to the pressures of discontentment, and
— to be free from the fear of failure.
“It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace…” Hebrews 13:9
I’m experiencing this new heart-strengthening during my day. When a difficulty appears, I ask God to give me the grace to get me through it. I am learning He is faithful to answer that prayer.
It doesn’t matter how many times we have to start over, every day. God’s blessings are always within our reach to experience — not because we’ve earned it, but simply because we are His.
This is our good fortune — Grace Everyday.
How can you extend God’s grace to yourself today?
What does happiness mean to you?
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Amen. I am thankful for His grace today. For the privilege of understanding that no matter how far I fall, His grace is never out of reach. Like you, Bonnie, I acknowledge that when God calls us into the humbling grace…He is preparing us to sit with Kings and Princes as His word says. I am saint and that only by the saving grace and by the same grace, I take each step a time knowing that today is and will be a part of my tomorrow and a life time.
Without grace…I would be the most unhappy person on the face of the earth!
.-= Gladwell Musau´s last blog ..TODAY IS SPECIAL: I AM THANKFUL =-.
It really all boils down to needing Him more. That is exactly what God has been teaching me lately. When life is good, bad, or just plain complicated, He is the only one I need. LOVE your blog 🙂 Oh and thank you for your sweet email. I love visiting with you in blogger world 🙂
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This post was mentioned on Twitter by gyoung9751: The problem with happiness, by @TheBonnieGray. http://bit.ly/cVSarB…
I love how, when we truly ask Him questions, He really answers. Thanks for being a good God-listener and for sharing what He said.
And you have made me crave mooncakes. I’m actually going to try making some. The recipe I found claims a 20-min. preparation time. 🙂
.-= Monica Sharman´s last blog ..Unqualified Repentance =-.
Happiness is living grateful for it all.
“Worthy humble” …love that.
I’m struggling with my body due to a recent surgery. I was feeling down about an hour ago. I attempted to jog down a short note in response to an email, only to get about 5-10 words down when I heard our FatherGod say, “Is this truth?” I looked at the words I had written and thought out to Him, “NO”, and erased the line I had written. I then banished all the negative, pity-party-ing thoughts running through my mind. I am so much better! Thank You, Father, for your awesome grace!!!
“I can’t make myself better inside, even if I improved the way I did things or said things.”
–I often get caught in the prideful trap of…well, I’m “okay” or not that bad…or go the other extreme of ugh here I am again! But it’s when I truly remember that it’s all about Him working in me and living in that and listening to Him then that’s where I find that balance between contentment and moving forward.
So much packed into this post…off to mull some more 🙂
.-= Katy´s last blog ..Life is a Work of Art =-.
“I got humble…I got grace” That’s exactly the order needed. I have to be humble before I can receive His grace, even though His gracious hand is always extended. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and traditions.
.-= Sharlyn´s last blog ..A Sheep’s Tale =-.
It’s a paradox, isn’t it? By giving up the need to change, or do, or be, then you suddenly become more motivated, optimistic, inspired… I do believe in achieving and I am one who is terribly driven, but it must constantly be tempered by, as you say, the “grace every day.” I don’t think I’d be who I am without the drive. But I also can’t be who I am without completely surrendering to God and being okay with whatever is in front of me at the moment. A paradox, for sure.
.-= Bradley J. Moore´s last blog ..How to Get Unstuck =-.
@Gladwell: “No matter how far I fall, His grace is never out of reach…” This includes my every day stumbles.
@Jennifer: I agree – “It all boils down to needing Him more” – I’ve found that to be a prayer that opens my heart up when I say just those simple words.
@Esther: I love your definition! @Cathleen: That is a great example of God’s grace in the moment – and how you were willing to say “NO”. That too is grace!
@Katy: Bouncing between extremes is somehow easy to do. I’m learning to tell myself the truth, which is that “balance”, somewhere in between.
@Sharyln: That was the order I found in His Word. Now, if only I can get there more often and sooner! 😉
@Bradley: I think you gave another definition of humility, here. Being driven is normal to getting big things done, but it is the humble act of surrendering and being tempered in that drive that God gives us grace in the moment.
Bonnie, thank you for writing this post! You cannot possibly know how much I needed to be reminded of this right NOW!
At this moment there are movers in my home taking all of my furniture away. We had to sell our beautiful home that I thought would be permanent. Yeah, right! I also sold my furniture that we had specially designed for this home. Each piece was chosen with such great care down to the fabric, wood, etc.
I had my cry last week and I believe I am at the point of acceptance. It’s like a grieving process. When I consider my loss in comparison to the people of Haiti, I feel ashamed. I’ve had so much and they had nothing.
But I’ve learned such important lessons through this trial. God is good. And God is faithful. He provided a Christian couple who offered the use of a home they own and had been trying to sell without success. It’s very small but since we have no furniture; it works perfectly. And it’s a roof over our heads for which I’m so thankful.
Today the owner of the moving company sat and talked with me. He is the one who originally worked with our designer and delivered all of the furniture to begin with. Peter told me that he has extra inventory of furniture stored. I guess if a piece has a little knick or the buyers decide they don’t like it, instead of returning it Peter said it’s cheaper to simply order a new piece. He told me to make a list of the furniture that we might need and he would supply it!!! I couldn’t believe my ears. Is God good or what? And He used a Peter to bless us.
I”m sorry this is so long but you can see your post struck such a cord with me today. The Lord has supplied the grace for me to get through this day. And I’m so thankful that despite my imperfections, He chooses to work in and through me when I surrender it all to Him.
Blessings and love,
.-= Debbie ´s last blog ..Lindenhurst High School 1971 =-.
Dear Debbie, I am amazed at how you are choosing to receive the grace God is providing, when you could just as easily focus on what is being changed. You are making the heart choice (as your blog name says) to say God is good, even when the very things you once held dear are now a part of the past. You are wise in taking this trial in as a grieving process. Continue to be kind and gracious to yourself (It’s no shame to grieve your loss).
Thank you for sharing an incredible miracle of God’s working! — A wonderful place to stay and beautiful furniture through Peter! Thank you, God! God will never let His children take more than they can bear. He is a Papa who has sweet surprises under His sleeves, so He can keep our spirits hopeful.
Thank you for taking time to share your praise — in the midst of such adversity! You are a shining testimony!
I wish you lots of good rest tonight, Debbie, as you count the ways our Father is caring for you. I’m also going to be praying for you, as I turn out the lights. Thank you, God, for using Peter to bless Debbie. Thank you for Debbie. Continue to bless her! In His Name, Amen!
Thank you Bonnie for your kind words and especially your prayers. I had to stop back and tell you.
May the Lord bless you,
.-= Debbie´s last blog ..TSMSS ~ My Life is in Your Hands =-.
For me, the grace filled life means understanding that Jesus is a great leader and I am not a great follower. Thus, my dependence is on His leadership abilities, rather than on my puny abilities to follow Him.
Jude 24: “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy.”
.-= Larry Who´s last blog ..Islamic Terrorists Vs. Radical Christians: New Game. New Rules. (Part 10) =-.
My mega wealth is my mega faith…”.bring it on this year, Lord!”
Red Letter Believers, “Salt and Light”
I loved this post. 🙂 I’m a part of High Calling Blogs and this is my first time to visit you, but I’ll be back.
I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older that I need more grace every day than I ever thought possible. But at the same time, God in His mercy is showing me that He has an infinite supply.
.-= Dena Dyer´s last blog ..Keeping our Kids Safe =-.