As I drove home from a wonderful outdoor dinner with a few girlfriends last night I took inventory of how I felt: happy.
I believed for a long time that happiness was the counterfeit of joy and I should be cautionary not to idolize it or pursue it. Joy was eternal, heavenly, and good. Happiness was fleeting and shallow.
Maybe that is an okay distinction in some contexts but I don’t think they are all-encompassing definitions for happiness and joy. Joy is eternal, heavenly, and good. It’s also the gratitude I muster and hope I cling to in desperate times.
Happiness like the past evening was the same happiness I felt the weekend before when I had a thoroughly good day. Nothing extraordinary happened, nothing devastating happened. It was good.
I don’t need to feel shame for being happy. Happiness is the expression of joy when our environments are safe enough for us to relax. I’m recognizing now that my theme for the year has been rest. I’m sure God knew that I would need to rest so that I could feel happy. Being strung up and preoccupied was holding me back from being able to relax.
This reminds me of Genesis 1 where we see that God rested and said, “It is good.”
I won’t ask you to turn a blind eye to the suffering that our nation is experiencing right now. I don’t want you to live in denial of pain. But I will ask that you take a breath-long moment to relax. In this moment you are safe enough to let your walls down and let whatever joy is there inside you out. Feel that something in the world, in someone you love, in you, in God, is good. Choose happy now.
When it’s time for that moment to pass, because happiness is temporary, keep that joy inside you like a treasure to cherish throughout the day. Ask God to give you a little more. Even if you sow in tears, you’ll reap in joy. Be wise enough to preserve joy always and brave enough to be happy when you can.