Imagine your doctor telling you there is more nutritional value in a box of donuts than kale and quinoa. Or opening a letter that looks like an ordinary bill that instead declares you are inheriting a large sum of money.
In her new book, The Sacrament of Happy, Lisa Harper reveals a similar extravagant, unexpected surprise, declaring that happiness--the ordinary feeling of happiness—is a gift from God that you can unashamedly enjoy.
Lisa Harper approaches the topic both as a seminary graduate and a warm-hearted adoptive mom. One illuminating fact she unravels is that the first verse of the first psalm (a word typically translated as "blessed") literally means happy—one of many biblical reasons for dismantling the old-school notion that joy, not happiness, is the true fruit of the spirit. In truth, joy and happiness are more like fraternal twins than distant cousins. We as Christians do not need to abandon happiness in favor of joy for truly deep and intimate experience with God. Beyond merely a circumstances-based, up-and-down emotion, happiness comes from a deep conviction in the unmitigated goodness of our Creator-Redeemer, freeing us to feel and express genuine joy, fulfillment, and contentment, regardless of personal or global tumult.
Lisa Harper's personal story includes such happiness killers as sexual abuse, the deaths of near loved ones, a heartbreaking failed adoption, followed by the arrival of an adopted daughter from Haiti who is HIV-positive. Yet she writes on themes like: “The lost sacrament of laughter”—“Does happy have a personality type?”—“Tuning out the Pharisees who try to mute your happiness in the context of spiritual maturity.” This is obviously not a book of trite, untested clichés. It goes well beneath most people’s surface understanding of happiness, gently guiding readers closer to the heart of God . . . with naturally a few genuine laughs and grins to enjoy along the way.