The simple statement was anything but. As soon as it came out of my mouth, I paused, surprised to realize I meant it. My best friend sat across from me unaware of the profoundness of the moment.
Most of my life, I’ve had a when/then approach to happiness. When _____, then I’ll be happy. When I lose weight. When we move back East. When Eric isn’t so busy with work. When I get published. When, when, when…
So, imagine my surprise when “I’m happy” came out of my mouth before any of these things happened. Life is no where near perfect. I have gained weight recently (a good bit, actually), we’ve now lived in Texas a whopping four years, my husband’s work hours are still long, and I’m not yet published (though closer, I’d like to think).
So, what’s changed?
I wasn’t sure at first. It’s taken a bit of thinking to come to a few conclusions.
- I’ve stopped putting my happiness in the hands of others. For many years, I gave my husband the task of making me happy. Sure, I should feel happy when I’m with him. It should be a fairly consistent outcome to be together. But what an unfortunate pressure to put on him–or anyone else. I owe a lot of this awareness to the marriage counselor we visited for about six months after our move to Texas. It’s had more of an impact than I realized. Until now.
- I’ve let go of the illusion of Perfect. The unfortunate implication of my when/then approach is that it seeks an unattainable perfection. Life will never be perfect. If we gauge our happiness on how many things are going right, or likewise, wrong, then we’ll be disappointed every time. I’d like to think that my age has something to do with this. As I get older, experience more, I can appreciate the pseudo-perfection within the messes, mistakes, uh-oh’s, and unforeseens.
- I care less what others think of me. This is a biggie. As a young girl, I remember being overwhelmed by the anxiety of what others thought about me. Did they think I was too short, too big, too smart, unfashionable, nerdy, etc.? In college a professor once told us that people thought about us way less than we thought, if at all. The fact of the matter is, there’s a very small likelihood that anyone went home the day I was self-concious at the beach and talked over dinner about how I looked in a swimsuit. You can apply that logic to just about any situation in which you’ve wondered what others thought. Save that concern for situations that really matter. Spend more time.
So, what’s changed? I’ve realized that within these conclusions, everything and nothing has changed. Let me explain.
God, the Great I Am, always has been and always will be. He’s not changed. He is constant and true. Nothing has changed. But…
I’ve put my happiness in the hands of God and his faithful promises.
I’ve let go of perfection on earth, and clung to the Perfection of Salvation.
I care less what others think of me, and focus on what God thinks of me.
Everything has changed.
Before you think I’m insinuating that a Christian’s life is one of guaranteed happiness, hear me out. I have bad days. I still get self conscious (usually at the pool, if I’m being honest). I still yearn for things I don’t have, like a publishing deal. I don’t feel happy every minute of every day, but every day I am happy.
Here’s what I pray you start to let sink in to the weary places of your heart, friend:
When you screw up, God still loves you.
When you come up short, God still loves you.
When you stall progress on a goal, God still loves you.
When you give him every reason NOT to love you, GOD STILL LOVES YOU.
That’s reason enough to be happy.
On Being Happy… A simple but profound realization. — TWEET THIS!
Who’s job is it to make you #happy? | On Being Happy — TWEET THIS!
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9 thoughts on “On Being Happy”
Great thoughts, Teresa! You point out beautifully how much of happiness is intentional – looking to the good in our lives. So true!
Thanks, Andrew. Nice to hear from you!
Teresa, your wisdom is always inspiring. I have learned so much here!
You’re a blessing, Andrew! 🙂
I love this so much. Love *you* even more. Thank you for the much-needed reminder to look to God for our happiness, not within ourselves or to those around us.
Love YOU, Mikal. Thanks for being such a supportive reader of this blog and of ME in life!
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Always, my sweet friend!
So true! So well said! Takes some of us longer to realize these truths! Love you!