Have you ever felt that there’s something wrong with working toward being happy? With seeking happiness? For some reason, growing up in the church, I got the feeling that it was wrong to seek happiness. For example, when people would say “I just want to be happy” or “I just want you to be happy,” the response always seemed to be “It’s not all about being happy. It’s about following God’s will.” I can see how there’s truth to that. If you look through the Bible, a lot of what God’s people go through doesn’t seem to work with the idea of being happy. I always felt like this was confusing. When God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, they seemed to have a pretty easy, happy life. That seemed to be the initial experience–no pain, hunger, or fear. When Jesus came, he talked about wanting us to have an abundant life. I take that as getting back to a place like what Adam and Eve had. A close relationship with God. The ability to enjoy all that God had provided for them. A safe place to love each other and live together. I try to practice contentment, and part of the reason why is because I don’t want to waste my life being unhappy. And now that I have Ashtyn, I absolutely want her to have a happy life. Life is such a tremendous gift. And there can be so much joy in life. The problem is that there’s so much evil and pain in the world. There are so many people hurting and struggling. And really, I’ve seen people struggling who still seem to be joyful. But not always. Of course not.
To me, striving for a happy life, a good life, is not a bad thing. This looks different for different people, but when I’m just home with Ash and Jeff or at home with my mom and dad and my sisters, I’m happy. And during those great moments, it’s like catching a glimpse of how things should be. And I love living with those kinds of moments. I think some people equate happiness with having lots of things or going lots of places. To me, being happy starts in your heart. When I help others, it makes me happy. When I reach out to people in need, it makes me happy. But at the same time, reading a great book or watching a good movie makes me happy, too; experiencing something new or trying out a new recipe can make me happy. All I know is that this life is too short to not look for joy where we can. Or to fill our lives with it. Here are a few things that always make me smile:
1. Jeff making me laugh.
2. Ashtyn giving me a hug.
3. Seeing my parents after we’ve been apart.
4. The movie Sense and Sensibility.
5. Opening a brand-new book.
6. Talking with Sara.
7. Laughing with Laura.
8. Thanksgiving dinner.
9. Hearing Ashtyn come running around the corner.
10. Hearing my dad tell me that he loves me.
Those are just a handful of things that make me happy. So many things make me smile–the epilogue of Harry Potter (yes, it doesn’t take that much to make me happy 🙂 ). Anyway, I want Ashtyn to grow up with those kinds of moments where she catches glimpses of how things should be, how they can be. To me, being happy is feeling safe, loved, treasured, and it’s making other people feel that way, too.