“But are you happy?”
“Do what makes you happy!”
“As long as you’re happy!”
There’s nothing that gets under my skin faster than one of these cliché happiness comments. Ok, I say that a lot, but this is one of my biggest pet-peeves. When my friends hear a comments like this they just look at me and roll their eyes “Uh oh, here goes Katie on her pedestal.” They know what comes next. Keeping my mouth shut is sometimes an issue. But that’s why I have a blog, right?
What is happiness? It’s a fleeting emotion. It comes just as fast as it disappears. Yet, so many of us base our lives on it. Our marriages. Our living situations. Our success. Our feelings of importance and self-acceptance. Our acceptance of others. “Are they happy? Ah, then that’s all that matters.”
One of the biggest reasons (excuses) for marriages falling apart is the lie that if it doesn’t make you happy, you shouldn’t be involved in it. Think of how many times you’ve seen a couple struggling and heard someone say “Well, if you aren’t happy, maybe you need to consider leaving”. This was definitely one of the reasons I used to justify leaving my marriage. As I listen to others in struggling marriages or those that have been through a divorce, this is one of the repeating lines.
Happiness comes and goes. If I’m not feeling happy with my husband or marriage one minute, the next minute it might change completely. It causes even more confusion to rely on happiness as a deciding factor. One minute I feel happy and content, the next I’m crying, depressed and empty. If I’m relying on the happiness to be there continually, when the sadness comes over me, I start to question if my marriage is right.
Happiness is never continually present. The feeling depends on our situations and our momentary experiences. Our marriages cannot possibly rely on the something that is so temperamental and instantaneous. Yes, it’s an important factor and feeling happy is good. But relying on to define what is right and wrong, especially something as important as a marriage, isn’t wise.
You’ll hear me mention my Rebellious Years many times in my writing. These are the two years that I lived a wild life outside of my marriage. During these years I did everything I could to feel “happy”. I was finally living my life the way I wanted to, not the way I had been told that I should. I drank, slept around, swore like a trucker. And apparently, I was happy. Or so I would have claimed throughout years. What I didn’t acknowledge, or even realize during this time, was how empty my soul was feeling. None of the things that I thought were making me happy, were actually making me feel joyful. Happiness flittered away within moments and I was left feeling empty.
I think that’s the lesson here. Joy is what we need to be pursuing. Something that is solid, can hold us during the storms, is unchanging. Something we can look to when times get tough and know that we will get through. Something that will fill our soul, not disappear as soon as the moment is complete.
And that’s where my relationship with the Lord comes in.
He is unchanging, he fills me soul with contentedness, he comforts and sooths me. He provides joy and encouragement even when I can’t seem to see the end of the struggle. If I focus on being happy, I will be tossed around, changing my mind constantly, wondering where I belong. I’ll always be pursuing the next best thing and wondering why I don’t feel complete. But if I chase after joy, I’ll be satisfied and know that the next best thing could never have satisfied my soul anyways.