Is true love and happiness just the carrot dangled in front of us?

The possibility that we can find true love and happiness is the carrot dangled in front of us. It is the promise in every romantic comedy. We would be disappointed if it wasn’t. However, real life begs the question of whether we have placed our faith in fairytales. I know I have wondered this.

In my teens and early twenties I battled the fear that nobody would want to marry me. My three younger siblings were married and I found myself wallowing in longing and loneliness. Marriage and family seemed to be the missing element that would fill the void I felt. My mother was convinced it was the next thing I needed and I admit I listened to her. I even went so far as to visit a “boyfriend” in another province with whom I had a rather long long-distance relationship to let him know I was finally ready to settle down. Unfortunately I discovered he was now taken.

I watched an interview with a young woman who had every marriageable quality, namely beauty, youth, understanding, insight. She cleans houses for a living and lives frugally. Who wouldn’t want a woman like her for a wife? But like me, she expressed a fatalistic acceptance of never being married. It hit me that I know very many in their twenties and thirties like her. I wished I could open a match-making service to bring these people together.

I think what is missing is opportunity to meet a varied group of marriageable people in a setting where there is no pressure.

Someone told our college-aged group that we would marry out of our acquaintances and this jarred me. I realized that I held onto a fantasy that my prince would come riding into town one day. He was not already there, among my peers, waiting to be acknlowledged. I had tried to broaden my horizons. Nothing wrong with that. I remember a girlfriend and I went to a gathering of youth across the border, with no other intent than the hope that we might meet someone.

I wasn’t alone in my thinking. Two of my best friends also despaired of ever getting married. Like the girl I mentioned earlier, they had everything to recommend them for marriage but it was as though all hell was bent on keeping us from the alter. Recently I have begun to think there may actually be some truth to this. We cannot deny there are oppositional forces keeping people apart and preventing them from committing to another person.

Why should my girlfriend and I get married, a young man asked me. So you can have a family, was my response.

Family. Think about it. We come from a family, such as it was. We dream about the ideal, two-parent biological family. Nobody can deny it is what we need and want.

I think many people have given up on ever having either marriage or happiness. Not only is it disappointing to have neither love nor happiness, it is depressing and almost devastating to have to acknowledge that this was the elusive carrot and that we were virtually deceived and promised an ideal that would never happen.

But happiness is not tied to marriage. In fact, happiness is not dependent on our situation. It is a mindset. It is deciding to refuse to be unhappy and doing everything we know to do in order not to sink into despair. I’ve engaged in years of observation and study to find out why some people are happy and others are not. I’ve concluded happiness is not dependent on circumstances. People can be in an identically trying place and one will be happy while another will be on the brink of suicide. Each has arrived where they are as a result of a pattern of choices in how they respond to what life deals them.

Refusal to sink is a powerful weapon. It means you may go under water, but you will always rise again. It means you believe in your resilience. You get up as many times as you fall down.

It also means looking out for the things that make you buoyant and strong.

At the root of happiness is a personal integrity. You value your life.

It follows that if you value your own life, you will value the lives of others. And if you value the lives of others, you will live your life so as to make the world a better place. Integrity is being the same person on the outside as you are on the inside. It also means cleaning up the mess inside.

It means dealing with your anxious feelings, with your tendency to become easily annoyed, with your constant worrying, with your fearfulness, with your difficulty coping. It means facing the truth that the best thing you can do for yourself is to become a stronger, better adjusted person.

An interesting thing happened at the time in my life when I was afraid I would never get married. I increased my happiness level.

I had not wasted my time while I was waiting for my prince. I had worked at becoming marriageable. It struck me one day that I needed to become the person who would attract the kind of person I wanted to marry. Once I had this revelation an amazing thing happened. I began to have options. I also turned down unsuitable prospects because I valued myself and knew what I needed.

I was still unrealistic, however. I might not marry a “handsome prince.” Looking back I see that I had a sad pattern of always falling for a stereotype. Yes, the tall, dark, handsome type. I married a ginger.

As I thought about who I wanted in my life as a life partner, I decided that I wanted someone whom I would enjoy sitting across from me at the breakfast table for my remaining years.

Happiness has not come easy for me, but the pursuit has been rewarding. I think we find happiness in the pursuit because our eyes are opened.

Lately I have had more of a struggle maintaining a happy spirit. I awaken at night with dismal feelings, even feelings of doom. I don’t think it is possible to be truly happy unless your soul is at rest. This is where I believe the Christian faith shines. Not only does the example of Christ inspire, we are offered forgiveness. This is such a unique and profound concept. That we can start anew. That we can be restored in our relationship after having failed. That we can offer this hope to others.

A life of integrity is a life lived with the quiet assurance that we have done our part reasonably well. This is what helps us sleep at night. It is also a life that is not naive and can face with courage the evil and devastation in the world. Let’s be honest, there is evil and devastation. The longer we live, the more we see. This is the reason for my feelings of doom. It is the reality we live with. The only response I have found to lift me out of this place is prayer. Prayer is an aspect of virtually all religions. But prayer is only a placebo if the entity to which we are praying is a figment of our imagination. On the other hand, if we believe in a Creator of the universe, then it follows that this Creator and sustainer of life cares. Every day we have a new sunrise. Every day the birds are fed. Every day plants grow. This simple observation is enough to lift me out of despair every time because it is evidence that my Creator lives. My only reasonable response is awe and worship and gratitude.

When I awake with feelings of doom in the middle of the night, I begin to pray for the world. The beauty and the order I see in creation, the intricacies of the balance of nature, inspire me to pray for the same thing among human beings. In other words, I pray “Thy kingdom; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

I consider myself the most fortunate person on earth to have grasped this understanding. Prayer for me is not a placebo. It is a powerful coming into unity with the one who created me and sustains me. We have been done a serious disservice by being taught to put our faith in the theory of evolution. We have been told to believe in a “theory.” In fact the qualifier, “theory” has been mostly erased. In university we are stigmatized if we do not “believe” in evolution.

This is more critical than people realize. I propose that the real purpose of the introduction of the theory of evolution was actually an objection to belief in a Creator. However, looking at the laws of the universe will quickly dispel the theory. Seeing that there is no evidence of the “in-between” and “imperfect” stages of development disproves the theory. Yes, there are similarities between species that could point to giving rise to superior species and development from simplicity to complexity. But there are components that need to be in place simultaneously and so many components that evolution never attempts to explain. This proposition merely depends on our ignorance and inability and unwillingness to open our eyes and see and reason.

Why is this relevant to marriage and happiness? Every species propagates. Propagation is part of purpose. If we cannot propagate, we can support others who can. Do you see how evolutionary theory opposes propagation? It cannot have a worldview of blessing and sustenance by the Creator. It totally depends on personal effort. Well, we are doomed when we exclude a Greater Power.

This is why faith can be threatening. It truly engages a Higher Power. It is also why faith and religion have not only been maligned but have been distorted and destroyed from within and become unrecognizable as a source of goodness and strength. It is what the Bible refers to as damnable, the “holding of truth in unrighteousness.” The perfection we see in creation around us is meant to be mirrored in our lives. Yes, there is forgiveness offered when we fail, and we all fail. But we are called to a higher place. A place where rivers of living water flow out of our belly. A place of fruit-bearing. A place of hope and joy and peace.

You will see that this flies in the face of popular culture. This is because God has a real adversary and people can choose with which side to align themselves.

Whenever I pray for the whole world when I have a personal need, I feel the burden lift. But it is not a victory without a battle. There is a relationship we can have with our Creator that exceeds the beauty and fulfillment of a marriage. I have lived this for decades and I have found “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” It is the glory of God we are seeking, even more than marriage and happiness. When we experience the glory we will not be satisfied with anything less. We will have a “continual feast” and it will make us the kind of people in whose company others desire to be. It will also give us patience during the times of waiting. And much of life is waiting.

I am amazed at how confrontational these simple observations are today. We have moved so far from the simple understanding of believing in a life-giving God and living a life according to godly principles in the way we were intended to live. All of nature around us is an example of the beauty and simplicity of a life lived according to the original blueprint.

Canadian Truckers Didn’t Get What They Expected–Instead They Got So Much More

The two things truckers asked for, they didn’t get–vaccine mandates lifted and travel restrictions lifted. But they didn’t come away with nothing. Quite to the contrary. They came away with their eyes opened.

It can be very distressing when you expect one thing and get something entirely different.

Truckers drove to Ottawa in anticipation. You had a very real need. You knew who could address that need.

The problem is that only Prime Minster Trudeau could address the felt need of the truckers. There was no one else to go to, so you went directly to him, at great cost to yourselves.

The relationship between citizens and the government and our Prime Minister is not exactly a parent/child relationship but there are similarities. There is a similarity in that we have an authoritative presence in government and we, the people, experience a measure of dependency and susceptability to the whims of this authority.

In the case of the truckers, you wanted an audience with “dad.” But he turned his back on you. He did not even come out and say “No.” You had what you perceived to be a very reasonable request. Your “dad” verbally abused you, insulted you, belittled you and essentially trashed you before others. That is not a good feeling. It leaves you floundering with all kinds of internal dissonance.

The dissonance is there because what happened is very difficult to reconcile in your heart and mind and mostly this is due to the high regard you had for leadership. Your leaders have fallen from the pedestal on which you held them.

In the case of abuse, and that is clearly what happened here, there is the tendency of the victim to excuse the perpetrator. We want to hold onto our ideal. We need to hold onto our ideal. Because not to do so turns the world we imagined upside down.

We may even go so far as to deny reality in order to preserve the ideal.

Many Canadians have embraced a vision of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as a man of decency with respect for the ordinary citizens of Canada. We thought we held a precious place in his heart. Not only was he deaf to the voices of the truckers, but he slandered those who relied on his good judgment and had no where else to turn with their need.

Essentially, truckers, you felt like you were calling out your “parent.” Parents make mistakes. Some are ready to admit them and humbly ask for forgiveness. Some are not. Some will never apologize to their children. They see themselves in another protected category and this is very unfortunate because the necessary coming together cannot happen. A beautiful and trusting relationship cannot happen without being attentive to, and exploring, each other’s views.

I’m trying to unpack what happened because I find it uncomfortable and even distressing to be in a place of tension where actual experience suddenly does not match my long-held and cherished vision of Canada.

Truckers determined to have a peaceful protest. You did everything possible to convince Canada that you were going to remain peaceful. I truly cannot imagine a more peaceful truckers’ protest. One evidence of this was how you cared for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Ironically this monument symbolizes those for whom there was never resolve because they did not return from battle, either dead or alive, and their remains were never found.

Truckers showed kindness and fed the homeless. When people’s generosity towards you overflowed to the point where you had food left over, you donated to food banks. You showed yourselves to be generous and caring and fun-loving. You cleared sidewalks and picked up garbage left by others. Crime in the area dropped by 90%. But of course this was not how you were represented in the legacy media.

We rely on media for accurate documentation. Not only did the Prime Minister refuse to speak to you, relegating you to a class of citizens that he deemed too despicable to address, the media used talking points over and over again to try and smear your peaceful protest before the public. Both succeeded in maligning the protest to the degree that some neighbours felt justified in villainizing you as well. You suddenly found yourself experiencing a completely different world, one you never anticipated, one very unfamiliar to you, one where people were cruel and unjust and lied and turned others against those who never did them wrong.

The City of Ottawa, under the direction of the mayor, deployed a huge and unwarranted police presence. However, you welcomed the police because you had nothing to fear by their presence since you were following the law. You were respectful and friendly towards the officers who in turn treated you with dignity, more dignity than the Prime Minister demonstrated. The police were on the scene, daily, as witnesses, and can attest to your high character.

The media jumped on the visual of groups of police officers patrolling downtown Ottawa. They could turn this optic in their favor. Their goal, as we can see in hindsight, was to paint the most alarming picture possible of the protests and to incite a reaction. They attempted to create a story that would later justify the “crushing of an uprising.” 

Many of the truckers did not hold to a conspiracy theory before they came to Ottawa, but what they witnessed made it clear there was a conspiracy between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the media. They conspired to turn the truckers into villains in the eyes of the public. This they did.

Not everyone believed what they saw in print and came to Ottawa to find out what was going on for themselves. Others watched independent commentators online who were committed to documenting what was happening, of their own choice and at their own expense.

When the City of Ottawa asked you to stop honking horns, you stopped. Admittedly, you knew the horn honking would agitate some residents. Even peaceful protests cause disruptions. You were trying to get Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s attention. This was a means of making him aware of your presence, and making the community, and indeed the world, aware of the fact that you came to Ottawa with a purpose. You wanted to be heard.

Stop the vaccine mandates. Stop the ArriveCan app. Let Canadians be free, once again, to work in their chosen professions, and to travel.

From the beginning I have found it unconscionable that Canadians lost their jobs because they chose not to get the vaccine. If you cannot work, you cannot buy food and feed your family. Our government knows that if you cannot work, you cannot own a home. You lose your dignity and sense of purpose.

For some people it is impossible to get the vaccine, either for conscience sake or for medical reasons. Let’s not under value the significance of personal conviction and consent. Mandates remove the possibility of volition and consent by enforcing intolerable consequences.

Prime Minister Trudeau colluded with the press and it is becoming apparent that there was collusion with pharmaceutical companies who have a lot to gain from ongoing vaccination requirements, regardless of efficacy. It is unrealistic to expect 100% cooperation from the public. It is also totalitarian to have this kind of top-down legislation. The measures taken to force people into compliance are harsh and oppressive.

I am reminded of a little known historical tragedy that happened in Ukraine between 1932-1933 known as the Holodomor or “Great Famine.” Oppressive government mandates issued by Joseph Stalin limited travel and food production and distribution. Farmers were forced to give up their land under new government collectivization efforts. Peasants who resisted forfeiting their land were misrepresented as enemies of the public and violently suppressed by the government and cooperating neighbours during this period of Soviet Industrialization. As a result of the measures an estimated 7 million people in the Ukraine died unnecessarily of starvation.

As shocking as this account may be, it serves to remind us that government leaders are fallible. They are capable of making decisions that lack compassion and that disregard the rights of their citizens, namely the right to dignity and sustenance.

The cognitive dissonance felt by truckers began when they lost their jobs due to the vaccine mandate. This is true of health care workers as well. Peculiarly, these past “heroes” became targets of our government. At time when we lived in much greater fear of the dangers of covid-19, these people could not isolate and work from home, as the Prime Minister did. Daily they exposed themselves to risk and disease because of their commitment to providing care and delivering the goods on which Canadians depended.

The only thing that will resolve the dissonance is to stare, fearless and unflinching, directly at the brutal facts, without excuse or rationalization. This means moving away from denial. Experientially it is similar to feelings of grief after a great loss like a death. In stages of grief, people who move past denial find themselves angry. Anger is an acceptable response, not to be feared, but it must taper off. Anger depletes a person of energy and is typically followed by a season of depression. At this point it is helpful to find counsel or look for consolation in encouraging slogans, symbols or rituals. Finally we move into a place of acceptance, reluctant as we may be. I say acceptance, not in the sense of resignation, but rather facing the truth of how life is altered and summoning the courage to move forward.

We’ve now reached a fork in the road in Canada. Either we will rebuild our democracy, or the alternative will happen. We can only imagine what that might look like.

Admittedly, there is a part of us that wants to say, “It’s not as bad as I think.” But maybe it is. Maybe what you are thinking and feeling is exactly right. Our desperate longing for good in this world can get in our way. Our child-like innocence and blind trust can cause us to walk, unseeing, into a pit. As the saying goes, “It’s time to call a spade a spade.” Trust serves us well when others are trustworthy.

The trust of Canadians is tragically broken and that is the saddest outfall of the protest. But it was unavoidable and necessary for Canadians to come to this point of acknowledgement. Our government, its tactics, and its attitude towards the people has been exposed. We were living with a false perception of reality that may have been an illusion even in the more distant past. Things have deteriorated to the point that there is no longer any hiding.

I am hopeful that we can return to the Canada where there was trust in our government. Rebuilding trust will be a very long and arduous journey.

Yes, Canada is in a very fragile place. We must act with great care, going forward. The world is watching with expectation. Not all are cheering us on. Some are looking for a tragic end. Some are eyeing Canada calculatingly, hoping for opportunity.

Let’s not despair. All is not lost. Every day new voices are speaking up for dignity, truth, freedom and democracy.

Truckers have had their eyes opened. The images of force in downtown Ottawa as a result of the employment of the Emergencies Act will forever be burned in our memories as testimony to what we did not think could happen in Canada. Peaceful protest turned violent by our government.

There is another side of the coin we must consider as well.

Truckers, you were an imposing presence on Parliament Hill, virtually immovable, and definitely heard. Your peaceful protest attracted a lot of sympathy across Canada and this was undeniably threatening to our government.

Yes, you were a threat. A threat by your goodness and by your reasonableness. You represented justice. You represented fairness. You represented a sensibility understood by the common man. In the face of false accusations, in the face of loss of property, in the face of loss of freedom to work, you have this to hold onto. You did not violate your conscience.

You had no intention to overthrow the government but this was the charge cast against you, unrelentingly, by the Prime Minister and the press. The constant talk of weapons, the arrests that had noting to do with protesters, the defacing of monuments by vandals, which was attributed to truckers. You saw it all. You responded in a calm, respectful manner. You held the higher ground, and the Prime Minister knew it. Our representatives in government witnessed it as they went to work, and attested to the fact that they never felt more safe in downtown Ottawa, that is, until the day when the Emergencies Act was weaponized against innocent citizens.

In these times I turn to my faith for guidance and strength. Jesus knew what was in the heart of man. He was not under any illusions and he knows today. It was this knowledge that gave him courage, no matter the outcome.

We can have the same confidence and assurance when we are on the side of goodness. That does not mean that suffering is avoidable.

This battle for freedom to work, travel and live peacefully alongside our neighbours will continue around the world and it is truth and justice that will set us free. Let’s keep our eyes open and give thanks for every evidence of provision and each step forward in victory. Continue to sing “God keep our land, glorious and free….Oh Canada we stand on guard for thee” and to pray, “Thy kingdom come. They will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Hold the line.