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on happiness.

March 7, 2018

 

Hey Sole Sister,

 

It is good and right to feel happy. Yep, I said it. Happiness is a tricky thing, though, because it is unlikely that for your entire life, at every moment, you will feel happy. But, what that doesn’t mean is that it’s wrong to feel happy, or desire to feel happy again if you’re at a place where you’re not feeling happy.

 

Things I’ve been guilty of saying to others, believing myself, or have been told:

 

“Happiness is fleeting, focus on joy.”

 

This is so true and yet also a painful experience for some. Joy and fullness of satisfaction in Jesus is what sustains us through the sad, unhappy times, but what is painful about this is that it invalidates the experience of sadness. If joy in the Lord was “enough” then why God offer to us the emotional experience of happiness? I think it is exceptionally important for unhappiness to not cause our entire ship to sink, so to speak. Sad experiences, painful emotions, low feelings sometimes feel so overwhelming that it may feel like the ship is sinking and remembering that Jesus is the captain of a ship that will not sink is where true joy is found amidst sorrow. AND, I think the restoration of happiness is a worthy cause for our human experience.

 

“I’m feeling really resistant and sad about doing *fill in the blank*, which makes me think that God is calling me to that.” 

 

Ummm, since when did God become the anti-Santa and only call us to things we are dreading? I feel very strongly that God is making his followers look more like Jesus. I think he stretches us, prunes us, strengthens us, grows us, and even takes us out of our comfort zones into unknown territory. God even disciplines us and calls us back to Him when our hearts wander. I love these things about how God sees and loves me. He’s so gentle in this and so kind even when it feels hard. But, I do not think that everything he calls his followers to is a “dooms day” calling for them. That would make discerning the spirit so easy, right? You have option A that seems shiny, fun, exciting, an opportunity to grow and relate to others and you have option B that seems scary, unhappy, lonely, rigid, and uncertain. If God always called us to the scary, unhappy things, then we would know that option B was of God and option A was of the flesh. Is it possible God gives us many opportunities and asks us to consult with him, pray, discern, decide, and trust that He will sanctify us on the journey? Is it possible that He will not leave or forsake us no matter what? Just because option A feels lighter doesn’t mean it is not God’s will for you. It doesn’t mean it is God’s will for you. The work of the Spirit must help us choose.

 

“I just want to be happy again, but I know life’s not all about being happy.”

 

No ma’am, life is not all about being happy. But life is not all about being sad either. We can advocate for healthy life balances, joyful experiences, reconciled friendships, marriages, and family relationships, we can expect for God to restore our spirits and restore our relationships.

 

I know many women (myself included) who have experienced deeply sad, anxious feelings and their attempts at praying their way out of it creates a pattern of shameful thinking may believe that there is something wrong with them. The thoughts turn inward and they become all consuming. Questioning our worthiness of feeling happy again. Wondering if ever the darkness will clear. Wondering how other women seem to have it all together. Looking at social media to numb the sad feelings and ending up feeling even worse after the 30-minute scroll sesh.

 

There is so much more to this conversation on sadness and shame. This is only the beginning, but I hope this is a good place to start. It is beautiful and right to experience happiness and to long for those feelings. Feelings are not everything, but they are a part of our human experience and the suggestion that happiness be traded out for mundane or sad is out of the question.

 

Love you, mean it,

Catherine

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