Being Happy

Sunday, October 7, 2012

One of the things I've been talking about in therapy lately is happiness. What makes me happy? When do I last remember being happy? Click through for source

They seem like silly questions... until I can't answer them. Then they seem more profound.

My Christian background has a lot of answers for these questions. Ideas like "What if God [desires] to make us holy more than to make us happy?" were a basis for my marriage {Gary Chapman}. A former pastor's blog slogan is "Preach the gospel, die, and be forgotten." Life isn't about our happiness; it's about God and His holiness. And that should make us happy -- but really, it's just not about us. Right?

It's no secret that I'm unsure about my faith. That I have been for a while. And it's probable that my uncertainty about life has a lot to do with that. Everything I knew for sure -- I don't know it anymore. My identity, which was wrapped up tightly in the church, is unclear. Who am I? How did I get to this place? Where am I going? What do I believe?

These are all questions I'm asking. I don't have answers.

I read an interesting article today about exhaustion & the busyness of people, particularly as it relates to their work. The article hit home for me in a lot of ways. I like my job, but it exhausts me. I thrive off being dependable; I like being good at what I do. I like being productive and accomplished and in control. But I let all of that measure my worth in a way that's unfair at best, harmful at worst.

[W]hen we make the transition from crazy-busy to rest, we have to find out what comforts us, what really refuels us, and do that. We deserve to not just put work away and be in service of someone else. What’s really meaningful for us? What do we want to be doing? ... We don’t know who we are without productivity as a metric of our worth. We don’t know what we enjoy, and we lose track of how tired we are.

That was probably one of the most poignant sections that I read. Much of my identity is bound up in what I do. Bound up in my desire for perfection not just at work, but at home, too.

It's hard for me to relax. A dear friend has brought to my attention recently that I almost never sit still -- even when she's visiting. I don't like painting my nails because I'm forced to stop it -- whatever "it" I've engaged in -- for much longer than makes me comfortable. There's so much to do. And doing those things will make me happy... or so I think.

Jesus told Martha that Mary's way was better. I've always sympathized with Martha -- but perhaps Jesus had a point. There's something estimable in stopping, in sitting, in taking it all in. In revering life & finding meaning in our days. Not the point of the passage, perhaps, but a valuable analogy nonetheless. At least to me.

There's still so much for me to work through -- but this is an important work. Not searching for happiness for happiness's sake -- but to find out who I am, what I esteem, what makes me come alive. And while I know many whose particular brand of Christianity might implore them to seek God and not happiness, I have no reason to believe, at this point in my life, that both can't be found.

Perhaps where I least expect them.


Ashley said...

Very brave of you to post, bestie, and even braver to be exploring in the first place. Love you.

Laura K said...

My favorite line is "Maybe Jesus had a point." I find myself thinking things like this: "maybe God has a good idea here, but I'll have to think about it."

Here is an unsolicited book recommendation: _The Happiness Project_. It is sweet and witty and won't tell you that you should just trust Jesus and be happy. I don't remember that it is religious at all, but it has good ideas.

Kari said...

I love how honest and transparent you are in this post. And I agree that both can be found. And that God obviously designs things for our joy. Just look at creation, how good food tastes,and how sweet our deep relationships feel. I think the extreme view that happiness isn't what we should be seeking, is because people seek only that and at the expense of morals or wisdom, ya know?

All of life is found in the balance, in the normal. I had a friend tell me that recently, and it sunk in really deep with me. Life happens in the normal. Not when I'm trying to be perfect or not when I'm falling apart, my true growth happens in the normal day to day things. I think true happiness can be found there too.

And another thing, I've recently realized that stopping and pausing is of great value. We all have the things we have to separate ourselves from. Maybe yours is the "go, go, go". Mine was people. I've realized the value in alone time and not processing everything out loud with someone else. I didn't have to change who I was, I just had to start to find worth in those parts of my life that maybe were a little uncomfortable for me. I hope that makes sense.

Love you sweet friend. Lots.

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