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John Maxwell, ordained in the Wesleyan Church, has made a worldwide name for himself as an inspirational speaker and writer. Maxwell writes books and gives speeches that he fills with biblical ideas couched in everyday, non-religious language. He has an odd story about the secret of happiness.

He and his wife were being interviewed about their life, and someone asked Margaret Maxwell, “Does your husband make you happy?”

“No,” she said.

Silence.

“He has never made me happy.”

More silence, followed by a flummoxed John Maxwell pleading, “Sweetheart, please explain to these people what you mean!”

“For the first six months of our marriage, I would wait every day for him to come home so I could get happy. And after six months, I realized he would never make me happy. I was the only one who could make me happy.”

Among other things, this story happens to be 100 percent true. Those who espouse faith of any kind seem willing to concede, albeit half-heartedly, that cash, cars and such do not bring happiness. But you may be met by confusion, icy stares or white-hot rage if you suggest a friend or spouse or child does not possess the power to make you happy.

Happy people share happiness. If you are miserable before someone new enters your life, the chances are that misery will resurface soon enough.

The devotional guru Oswald Chambers wrote that relationships shipwreck when someone places a friend or a lover or a child in the place of God. When that happens, disappointment, heartbreak and bitterness inevitably result, because you demand from someone else what only God can give. Would you care for another head-scratcher? Not even God can make you happy, if you refuse happiness. “I set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Therefore, choose life, that you and your children may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:15-16).

The Rev. Eugene Stockstill is pastor of Ebenezer United Methodist Church and Myrtle United Methodist Church in Union County.

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