I’ll be honest. I don’t like change. Especially if that unwanted change adversely affects my preconceived plans and desires. But in China, change is the lifeblood of this country. A rural, fishing village mushrooms into a sprawling city within a few years. Entire villages are relocated to accommodate the creation of a monolithic dam. Droves of young people leave their villages in order to pursue their dreams of a better life in the city.
Perhaps I should have realized that change is inevitable in this evolving country, but for some reason, I was like the kid who covered his eyes, believing that if he couldn’t see you, then naturally you couldn’t see him. At any rate, before the spring semester began, I was given an ideal teaching schedule. Almost too good. 16 hours of teaching. A mixture of morning and evening classes, and better yet, a free weekend. After teaching four hours last semester on Saturday night, I was quite frankly pleased, if not ecstatic.
Then, the first week of classes began, and things began to change. The double-major students with their absurdly busy schedules (about 40 hours of classes each week) had a class conflict with mine. So, their other class preempted mine, and naturally the only other possible time was Friday night. There’s something indelibly ground into my psyche that believes Friday nights are strictly reserved for relaxation and entertainment. Teaching that night did not agree with that schema. Then, a non-major class that decided not to come to class on Thursday morning was moved to a more suitable time – Thursday night. Granted, it wasn’t on the sacred night of Friday, but it was still an evening class.
As I ought to have expected, my schedule changed from a blissful ideal to a stark reality. When my schedule devolved into its final state, I was reminded through my reading in the Word of the importance of contentment despite outward circumstances. Or to put it another way, being joyful in all things. It’s certainly no easy task, and I have failed many more times than I would like to admit. Often, it seems easier to ruminate upon unmet desires or crushed dreams than to focus on the blessings in life. But I think if I removed the blindfolds from my eyes, I would be more grateful and thankful for what God has given me.
Sometimes I listen to a radio show that has a weekly program called the Happiness Hour. The talk show host chooses various topics that center upon the importance of happiness in our lives. In fact, he believes it to be a moral obligation for people to be happy. I don’t want to discount the benefits of happiness for us or those around us, but often it seems to be a transient, fleeting emotion that produces momentary pleasure rather than enduring contentment. Perhaps I might change the Happiness Hour to the Joyful Hour. I may not always be happy or pleased with my external circumstances, but I can strive to have joy, a spiritually steadfast contentment, which can remain constant through the joys and disappointments of life.