"Will I never find a job?" I screamed into the empty air of our apartment. Sinking into a pity party, I bemoaned the money, time, and energy spent obtaining my degrees. No one wanted a new hire with no professional work experience, who was overqualified with education.
Still, I couldn't cry for long. There were other goals to pursue—I needed to prepare dinner for Dan, my new husband, since it was our three-month anniversary. At least he had a job to support us. Praise God I didn't have to worry about rent, food, or electric bills.
Cookbooks spread across the table, I lost myself in recipes. Far from a chef, maybe I could find something simple enough. At least I'd achieve a goal!
Lost in creative cooking, I didn't hear Dan return home. He entered the kitchen, took a big sniff, then asked, "Are you happy?"
As his finger snuck into the meat sauce, I playfully slapped his hand, but replied in my professional voice, "I can't think about happiness now. I'm focused on the goal of creating an exquisite meal for you, my wonderful husband. Today's our three-month anniversary." But then tears crept into my eyes, and my voice cracked as I said, "I feel totally useless being unemployed, so I'm focusing on a nice dinner."
"I appreciate your focus." Dan smiled, put his hands on my shoulders, and turned me to face him, giving me a heartfelt hug.
As I placed French bread in the oven, I reexamined Dan's question about happiness. Didn't he know I was unhappy because of my failing job search? Why ask if I'm happy when he knew my career goals sat in ashes?
"Actually," I admitted, "since you asked. No, I'm not happy. I can't find a job. When I think there's a fit for my skills, I'm told I'm overqualified. I hate that word!"
I'm Not Happy if You're Not Happy
During dinner, while buttering his bread, Dan shared, "At work today Norm said he and his wife retreat yearly to discuss their goals, plans, wishes, and wants. They call it their 'happiness check.' That's why I asked if you were happy. Other than not finding a job, I'd hoped you were."
"Your happiness is partly based upon my happiness, right?" I said, reminded of the Scripture, "A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one" (Ephesians 5:31).
Affirmed, I continued, "Doesn't happiness come when you've achieved your goals? You should work at goals, not happiness."
"According to Norm, we create our happiness," Dan responded. "I don't know. What works for them might not work for us." Dan pushed back from the table. "Your focus on a dinner goal sure worked tonight! It was great! I'm happy you're my wife."