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We all wish to have an abundance of gladness in our lives, and we can. We can if we are willing to pay the price of letting go of happiness. Happiness and gladness are not the same things. Happiness depends upon our circumstances, happenstances and happenings of things turning out the way we wish they would. When happenstance differs from what we wish, we have unhappiness. Happiness is controlled by our external circumstances. Gladness, on the other hand, is guided by our hearts, and has in it room for circumstances that don’t turn out painlessly. Gladness has in it room for pain; gladness even comes as a result of our willingness to feel pain.
As an example, when your child grows up and leaves home, if you have relational connection to them, you will feel great sadness about their departure. The days of seeing them daily, talking with them easily, or getting to participate in their lives closely ends. You will have loneliness related to what is gone, and even fear about them going out into the world. You will wonder if you taught them enough, and regret the things you had planned to do that didn’t get done before they left. You may even miss the noise.
You will have a heightened sense of memories that you didn’t notice until they left, and your heart will ache in ways it didn’t the days before they left. And while you will have the great relief of certain chores of relationship ending, you will wish to have some of them back, just to do something so simple one more time. You will miss your child, especially if you got to know them well, no matter how clumsy your efforts in relationship. You will miss your child, while you will also have the great gladness that this growing person is able to leave, can step into the world to walk their path without you.
You will have deep gladness, the kind that has room for tears and fears. You will have the gladness that leaves you grateful to get to watch them be able to walk away, while, at the same time, you might wish to hold them like a child one more time.
Happiness has no room for depths of the heart or being fully alive in a relationship. It turns its face away from gladness because with gladness comes a price of feeling all the other feelings, too. People who have a lot of gladness in their lives are willing to pay the price of what it takes to have it. And people around them are blessed by their willingness. Just ask the child if it is so.