What does “chasing shadows” mean?
How many of us have ever attempted chasing after our shadows? Pointless you would say. If you have ever done this, did you succeed in catching your shadow? Now someone is smiling. Okay, did you try stepping on your shadow when you were young? Did you succeed in doing that? Although I never did literarily chase my shadow. I remember I once attempted to step on the shadow of my leg when I was young. What a ridiculous and pointless exercise! It was futile and I thank God I did realize that on time.
As funny as this illustration is, some of us have enrolled in the rat race of chasing the shadow called happiness. In catching this grand shadow, we assume that if we can have the baits it offers, we would have succeeded in our pursuit of happiness. It is puzzling, however, that every time it appears we have caught this grand shadow via the possession of one of its baits, it suddenly develops invincible wings and flies away and we wonder how and why?
So what are the baits of the grand shadow?
The baits that we sometimes pursue to be happy refer to our heart desires and ambitions which are inherently good. I mean there is nothing wrong with desiring a good job, a new house, marriage, or whatever it may be, but when possessing such become the basis of our happiness, we rob ourselves of a joyful life. Imagine if you had to wait for days, weeks, months, or years to be happy! That’s too expensive a price to pay for what you can have now. The danger inherent in tying our happiness to these baits is that we begin to operate in the illusion that once we can catch any of these baits, the ultimate prize would be the grand shadow – happiness. Alas, once we succeed in catching whatsoever bait we are pursuing at the moment, we soon come to the painful realization that such bait could not deliver to us a lasting experience of our ultimate expectation. A feeling of disappointment soon sets in and we identify another bait we feel if acquired, will give us a permanent access to the grandmaster. Sooner or later, we find out that the same cycle of this result is the case. This can become an endless, vicious cycle if we don’t break free from it. So how do we break free from this enslaving, endless race?
We stop chasing the grand shadow!
Yes, we stop chasing happiness and instead, seek God who is the source of all good things, including happiness. We choose to be happy at the moment while pursuing our goals and desires. 1Thessalonians 5: 16 says “Rejoice always”. This is very effective as it allows us actualize our goals from a happy stance. Chasing the baits of happiness to be happy will never satisfy us for when we acquire any of these baits, we soon realize that we need another bait to be happy. Furthermore, what happens if something happens to the bait which was supposed to make us happy? Our happiness should never be dependent on something that is not assuredly permanent. Only God abides forever (1 Peter 1:25).
The same way I couldn’t catch my shadow by chasing it is the same way we can’t catch happiness by chasing the baits it offers. We choose to be happy and then chase our goals or desires from a happy stance. I didn’t need to chase my shadow because I already had an original version of myself. In the same vein, happiness is a choice and we must make a conscious decision to be happy now! When situations and life events disrupt it, we grieve as humans that we are and after that is over, we choose happiness over and over again by trusting God who knows best.