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The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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Waitress The Musical: Happy Enough?

‘I want to be happy, not just happy enough.’ Such is the exasperated sigh of Jenna, our heroine. She’s stuck. Stuck with an abusive husband, and stuck in a dead-end job.

This might appear excessively bleak for what claims to be a romantic comedy, but it’s the opening scene of Waitress, currently showing on London’s West End (spoilers incoming). This is a life of dissatisfaction, of yearning for more.

It’s little surprise, then, when our protagonist attempts to move beyond both her sources of misery. She has an affair with her gynaecologist, and resolves to enter a pie-making competition to escape the monotony of her job. The search is on to find happiness.

However, these routes prove unsuccessful. The affair ends and the competition is never entered. It looks like happiness will continue to elude her. That is, until the play’s conclusion where, classically, it all turns out great and she gets her own pie shop to run with her daughter. As theatregoers, we want the story to end there.

However, as people living in the real world, we know better. In the real world, the story would continue…

What about when another shop opens nearby and makes slightly more money due to their slightly more talented chef? Or when it seems her fledgling business will fail? Or when her relationship with her daughter faces strain?

Though Jenna is driven by more urgent needs than just a desire to prove herself, for most of us it’s never long before the haunting question comes back. ‘Are you happy enough?’ The desire for more – striving for the elusive ‘enough’ – doesn’t go away, no matter how successful we get. The more you feed the comparison beast, the hungrier it gets.

If we find our ultimate satisfaction and worth in what we can do, there will always be another person’s ability, achievements, or status to compete with. Crisis is only ever one failure away.

What if, instead, we flipped our starting point. What if our identity wasn’t found primarily in who we are or what we’ve done, but in whose we are, and what he’s done. Identity that isn’t achieved, but received.

And that desire for more? It’s not in itself a bad thing. As C.S. Lewis writes, if ‘nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world’. We just need to recast our desire for more as a desire for that which will truly satisfy. For more of the kingdom. And for more of the King.


Matt Jolley
Research Assistant, LICC


Matt Jolley


  1. Thanks, Matt. Great reflection on the need to see whose we are. Every day our culture places either in our own hands or in the culture’s own the decisions about our identity, forgetting or ignoring the decision of a compassionate and wise King to make, choose and form us for Himself.

    By Huw Humphreys  -  28 Feb 2020
  2. A wonderfully penetrating comment, Matt, on the ‘way of the world’ today. In this year of 2020, may each of us be granted a ‘2020 spiritual vision’ enabling us to see the gift of life from a different perspective – your reflection delivers this with such clarity.

    By John Samways  -  28 Feb 2020
  3. Love it, thanks Matt

    By Bruce Gulland  -  28 Feb 2020
  4. Thanks, Matt.

    Comparison and jealousy constantly drag me down; but thinking that we are all sinners saved only by God’s grace make me feel we are loved by God regardless of our achievements.

    By Joyce  -  2 Mar 2020
  5. Hmm. I have… thoughts because of this article. I got here simply through curiosity about the song origin. I stayed because the article was well, and interesting written. It felt like a jumbled version of a thing I know intimately and I wanted to know more. I agreed with almost all of it. And.

    I think the writer misses so much so the story. As a theater lover, Sara superfan, Waitress the movie lover (long before the musical,) and perhaps also because I come with the perspective of a woman. Who is an optimist and non secular, but spiritual, believer. This story is told out of order. Happiness will not, in fact, “continue to elude her.” The value our protagonist brings to light is strength, courage, bravery and happiness. SHE ends the affair in peace and with everyone’s happiness at the forefront of that decision. She chose to divorce Earl. To start a new life and be happy with her baby. To recognize that Happiness is hers for the making, taking and creating. She has all the happiness and love she needs to thrive because of her Diner family. Sure, the money helps. But even if it didn’t she is both happy enough, and happy.

    I really like this article. I am in agreeance with almost all of it. I am grateful to have reflected on my own beliefs and understanding of how I view the world because of this engaging counter view.

    ✌️ ♥ 😊

    By Marné  -  19 Jan 2024

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