I recently watched the movie “The Bucket List” with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. There is a scene in the movie where Jack and Morgan, whose characters are both terminally ill, are sitting on top of a pyramid talking about death and the afterlife. Morgan offers a consideration to Jack regarding the ancient Egyptians “beautiful belief.” Morgan says they believed after someone dies their soul stands at the gates to Heaven and the gods ask the individual two questions. The individual’s answers determine if they get to enter into Heaven or not. The two questions are:
“Did you find joy in your life?”
Jack, ponders and replies, “Yes” that he has found joy. Morgan asks the second question,
“Has your life brought joy to others?”
Jack hesitates and becomes defensive as he is unable to answer this question with an assurance that he has brought joy to the lives of other people.
Not long after the movie ended I received a text message from a client who has been coming to me for marriage counseling. The text message simply stated that he would not be returning to counseling as, “It doesn’t look like it’s gonna work.” In light of the movie’s questions I found myself wondering how my client would answer these questions. Would he feel that his life has been joyful? He is a Christian who serves at his church. He might say he’s a faithful man who has “tried” to be a good husband and a good father. He might even say that he has brought joy to others.
Then I would ask his wife if she felt he brought her joy.
I would ask the wife the same questions: Has she found joy, and being a Godly woman who has served in many ways she might believe she has found joy in serving others. She might feel that her ability to do for others is a form of bringing joy to their lives.
Then I would ask her husband if he felt she brought him joy.
I have seen marriages fall apart while others continue to flourish and blossom into beautiful partnerships. The one thing I witness which makes the difference in a successful marriage or the demise of a failed one is the willingness of one to be a blessing (bring joy) to their partner. BOTH need to participate in order for this to work as one person does not a marriage make.
Selfishness and pride stand in the way of joy. The thing we want to get the most from our relationships, happiness (aka: Joy) is out of our reach because we want the other to bless us first. When we don’t feel blessed, we don’t bless them. Instead of fighting to bring happiness to the relationship, fighting, resentment, and blame steal love away. Our focus becomes one of punishment or getting even for perceived wrongs and love is forgotten. When each has reached a point of quitting because the other didn’t change first, the relationship ends. Both people walk away from the relationship wounded and broken and hope to find love with another broken and wounded person, but the pattern only repeats with the new relationship.
On this Independence weekend, try bringing joy to those you love and be a blessing to others and watch how the joy will return to you.