Painting Pictures with Words (Part 2)

I have, for the last few weeks been talking to my mom a lot more as our family is helping her decide whether to get a pacemaker to regulate a slower-than-normal heartbeat. While medical technologies have come a long way and the insertion of a pacemaker is mostly an out-patient procedure, it is still an invasive surgery and mom never like the idea of being in the hospital.

Our conversations will often start with mom asking me, “Ziah Pah Beh“; meaning if I have eaten in Hokkien (a dialect of Mandarin) . It’s a cultural thing and maybe I might discuss that in a future blog post.

Our recent Skype sessions have mostly been revisiting what the heart surgeon had said; about her recurring dizzy spells and persistent cough, and our desire for her to have a better quality of life.

With insufficient Hokkien vocabulary, the calls are usually no longer than 20 minutes. In an earlier reflection about telecommunication, I admitted never really looking forward to calling home mostly because of the guilt trip mom sends me on (ie. about staying overseas for so long).

My mom holds onto a Chinese saying, 养儿防老 (yang er fang lao), meaning one’s effort to raise a child so that you will be cared for in your old age. I can understand that every parent desires to have their children close by. By mom’s standard, her measure of happiness is to have all her children lived under the same roof where she gets to cook every meal for everyone and raise all of our children (and I can vouch for her skills from cooking to raising children).

At the root of that, I see man’s desire for a relationship as we are created by a relational God (神, shen). The Chinese character for the word happiness / blessedness is 福 (fu), and like another character I discussed earlier, this word paints another picture in the story of God.

When God (神, shen) created the first (一, yi) man (口, kou), He placed him in the Garden of Eden (represented by the character for field, 田 tian… imagine a field divided into plots). It was during that time when man walked with God in perfect harmony. It was that moment that man truly experienced happiness and blessedness.

During the celebration of Chinese New Year, the character 福 is often displayed upside down to suggest happiness descending from above (福从天降, fu cong tian jiang). The Bible speaks of God sending His Son Jesus to earth to redeem sinners (Galatians 4:4-5).

The true source of happiness, over two thousand years ago, has already descended from above, walked with man, and traded His life so that we can experience eternal life (John 3:16).

So, what is your source of happiness?