I’ll be honest, I love a good feelgood moment. I love to feel good. I love to feel cozy, which is sometimes hard to achieve on a hot summer’s day. Warm and cozy quickly turns into sweaty and gross. Give me a breezy morning with a sunrise, a good cup of coffee, a light blanket and a journal, and I have found heaven on Earth.
I found this Danish word recently that doesn’t translate well into English but totally speaks to me. I’ve seen it everywhere. It’s become somewhat of a trend, which I’m not exactly into, but it definitely addresses my need for all things cozy, nostalgic, warm and fuzzy.
Derived from a Norwegian word meaning well-being, the word is “hygge” pronounced “hue-ga”). In Danish, it’s a concept that encompasses a feeling of cozy contentment and well-being through enjoying the simple things in life. It’s considered to be deeply ingrained in Danish culture, a defining feature of their cultural identity and national DNA.
Meik Wiking said in his book “The Little Book of Hygge, “What freedom is to Americans, hygge is to Danes.” It’s no wonder Denmark is consistently at the top of the list of the world’s happiest countries, even with their miserable winters.
Hygge is not just a thing or a trend — it’s a way of life. It’s acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary, as cozy, charming or special. You don’t have to learn it or buy anything. It only requires a certain slowness and the ability to be present. It’s the art of creating intimacy. Contentedness. Security. Familiarity. Comfort. Reassurance. Kinship. Simplicity.
I love the whole concept of hygge, but if I’m being honest, it’s the comfort part I’m most drawn to. Aren’t we all? We seek comfort above most everything else. I can see this playing out regularly in all aspects of my life as a wife, a mom, an employee, a daughter and, most frighteningly, a Christ-follower.
A friend shared this quote with me yesterday, one I’d read before but conveniently forgot, probably because it grieves my heart when I let the words sink in.
Wilbur Rees wrote in his book “Three Dollars Worth of God:” “I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please. Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk, or a snooze in the sunshine. I don’t want enough of God to make me love a foreigner or pick beets with a migrant worker. I want ecstasy, not transformation. I want warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.”
Those words are embarrassingly true for me. There are lots of hygge moments with God, for sure, but this is far from the point of why Jesus came to die for us. He didn’t come so that we’d live a more comfortable life — to make church services how we like them or give enough money to organizations so that we don’t actually have to step outside our door and interact with people who are different from us.
In fact, if that’s all we attribute to salvation, we probably don’t have it. Living for Jesus does bring contentment, but it’s not from experiencing greater earthly comfort. The truth of the gospel is really uncomfortable — that I’m more sinful than anything I can imagine, that there is nothing I can do on my own to fix it and that I deserve death. But because Jesus lived the life I could never live, died the death that I deserve and rose to life, I am no longer dead in my sins. I am alive in Christ Jesus, and I get to know him. I get to know God personally — the one who is love, who loves unconditionally, who is always kind, compassionate, just, righteous, generous, faithful, loyal and good. That is intimacy. That is the most hygge it gets.