Happy [hap-ee]: delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing.
We often describe happiness as a state of being or a type of mood–something we desire to have or to be. Happiness for me is sleeping in, hanging out with my friends, sunshine + warm weather, being at the beach, finishing a workout (or somedays even just starting..), and spending time with my family. These are the things that make me happy. Your list likely looks very different from mine. Different things make different people happy.
If I had to describe myself, I’d say I’m a fairly happy person. I have a good life; I like my job, I have good friends, and I love my family. I mostly have good days. Everything is peachy keen–until it isn’t. Right? Life falls apart at your fingertips, you lose your job, your friend betrays you, your boyfriend/girlfriend breaks up with you, your bills pile up, your car breaks down, and pretty soon you are no longer the “happy” person with the “happy” life you once had (been there, had those days–and I’m pretty sure we all have). Everything changes, and in the blink of an eye you just can’t seem to find that happiness you once felt. Why does that happen?
Perhaps it’s because we base our happiness on our circumstances. We feel happy when everything goes our way–the kids behave, our friends are great, this months’ paycheck is more than enough to cover the bills, the sun shines all week, and the to-do list gets all checked off before 5pm. What a wonderful life! Wouldn’t it just be great if everything could be that perfect?
You and I both know that doesn’t happen. Some days may even start that way, but quickly end a different way, right? Life isn’t always a bed of roses. The only problem with basing our happiness on our circumstances is that our circumstances are constantly changing–most of the time without our control.
“Happiness at it’s best is only temporary.”
So what’s the other option then? We are just happy when things work out and crabby when they don’t? If that were true, I think we’d have a whole lot of crabby people in the world! Thankfully, that’s not the case. Have you ever seen someone who has had a pretty rough go at life, but has a smile on their face every time you see them? No matter what might be going on in their life or what they’re currently walking through, they always seem “happy”. And inside you wish you knew their secret? How could they possibly always be so happy?? I can think of a few people like that. Just give it a good 10 seconds and I’m sure you can come up with a list too. Seriously, give it a quick thought..
I’d almost bet you didn’t include yourself on that list though, did you? The good news is, you CAN be on that list. All it takes is a little three letter word called J.O.Y. Sounds a lot like happiness, but there are quite a few differences–let me explain…
Joy operates independently from circumstances. This is key. It’s a permanent condition, not based on which side of the bed we woke up on, if the kids cleaned up their mess, or if your perfectly laid out plans went accordingly. Joy is a spiritual result of our relationship with Christ. A gift from God when we truly accept him as our Savior–which makes it something that can never be taken away. Knowledge that even in the deepest valleys and places of suffering, there is a plan for goodness to come out of it. Have you ever left church, or finished a good bible study in the morning, and the rest of your day seemed a bit brighter, your mood a little better? I find that when I spend more time worshipping, and reading in the word that the little things which normally upset me don’t bother me quite as much. My perspective changes. That’s the kind of joy I’m talking about. That feeling, much like happiness, only it’s not based on your circumstances. Instead it’s based on the deeply rooted love Jesus has for you. The truth that you are loved, wanted, treasured, and ENOUGH just the way you are. Yes, I’m talking about you. That’s the kind of feelings he has for you–every day (even on the bad days).
I’ve commonly heard the acronmy for JOY as Jesus, Others, and then You. Putting your priorities in that order is beneficial to being more joy-filled. I recently read a post however, that spoke some truth into my heart. It stated: “J stands for Jesus, Y stands for You, but O stands for Zero. When absolutely nothing comes between Jesus and You, you will find joy. At the center of our joy is our relationship with God; anything that stands between us and our Savior will corrode our joy.”
For me it’s easy to corrode that joy with anxiety, fear, relationships, ect. I don’t know what your personal struggle is but let’s try not to let it win any longer. Joy is in reach. Push aside those distractions and focus on your relationship with the Father. For me that’s remembering God’s got a plan and I don’t have to be anxious about whatever circumstance comes my way. Something I’m trying hard to work on. I’m sure your happiness thief looks different than mine, but I encourage you to recognize it, show it your God, and you’ll see the Holy Spirit help you overcome those obstacles. You’ll notice your happiness looks different than it did before, not because your circumstances have changed (they probably haven’t), but because your joy is deeply rooted in Christ’s unchanging love. Chase after that!
“Bitterness, resentment, and anger have no place in a heart as beautiful as yours”