Happy: Feeling or showing pleasure or contentment. Fortunate and convenient. Characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment or joy.
Happiness: the state of being happy.
It had been a long day and it was only 11am. The morning was a blur of emails, dishes, bus drop off and unending text messages. I was totally in over my head. As I walked out of the bank (my last errand till my next appointment in an hour) I looked up for the first time since I woke at 5am that morning. The sun was high in the sky and shining. It was pleasantly warm and there was a soft breeze. I got into my car and rolled down my windows, I took a huge breath in and out, the air just smelled GOOD, Like spring, my heart skipped a beat. I closed my eyes and said a simple prayer:
THANK YOU LORD
When I opened my eyes the heavy weight of the morning had vanished. I felt excited and lighter. All the things I had to do for the rest of the day dissappeared. I turned up Lecrae and just started driving.
That moment was happiness to me. I am so grateful that God has helped me to pause and appreciate these little moments because for a very long time (and sometimes still) I struggle to find those moments. For the better part of my life happiness had conditions:
1- I had to make 6 figures and have a position of power
2- I had to live in NYC, in the best apartment money could buy
3- I had to be a size 2
4- I had to have all the fun and friends and places to go to
5- I had to have designer clothes
The list goes on and on. I was exhausted just trying to keep track of it all. In reality and upon reflection I was anything but happy. In my 20's and half of my 30's I drank too much, did drugs, struggled with an eating disorder and could not maintain a stable relationship with anyone. But to the world I had everything. I kept telling myself if I kept working I would finally make enough money. If I went on enough dates I would find the right person. If I worked out long enough and dieted hard enough that I would finally be happy. My happiness was dependant on the outcome of each of my days. I had given over control of my happiness to my job, my apartment, my wardrobe and my pants size. I focused only on the outcome of my efforts. Getting what I needed mattered above all. I stormed through my life like a bull in a china shop, never pausing for reflection or lessons. Not caring what was broken on my way to the final destination - happiness.
I got really close. But when I had those rare moments of quiet a feeling nagged at me. I would get anxious and then get sad. The feeling was so fleeting, it slipped away as quickly as it came. It wasen't until I had thought all was lost: When my husband was out of work and we had $100 in our bank account. When we lived with my in-laws for 4 years while struggling to get on our feet. When I prayed everytime I got in my old truck with 200,00 miles, a broken exhaust and questionable steering that I would just be able to make it to work cause we needed the money, and in so many other ways
That was when I realized, that was when I understood. All of those things I had worked so hard for, the happiness I took pride in earning could be gone JUST. LIKE. THAT. If I stayed where I was, if Gods grace and mercy and the holy spirit had not intervened I would have never been happy again. I had nothing to be happy about, I had nothing.
I learned that even tohugh I had nothing I learned how to entertain a 6 year old by spending $5 at the dollar store. I realized that date night could be a cup of coffee at the diner and Target and Forever 21 have some great workout wear. That family walks can be just as fun as a vacation and it is true God will always provide. The feeling of happy did not cause anxiety or quickly fade. It was there just waiting for me to embrace it.
So if you are struggling with happiness I understand. I know exactly what you are feeling. I challenge you to take a moment look around and take a deep breath. Ask yourself if you are working for happiness or just opening your eyes and seeing it for the first time. Are you chasing the moments or building a life dependant on a peace and joy that is unchanging. Happiness cannot be bought or worked for it is given by God, freely and with grace.