Happiness.

70 degrees in NW Arkansas today … what a crazy contrast from last winter:

LAST WINTER:

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THIS WINTER:

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Today was one of many days of over 65°F temperatures in January and February!!  We haven’t seen more than just a hint of a snowflake so far.  I will be honest in saying while I am not a big fan of winter and cold, I do want to feel like I’ve actually experienced the season!!  Just ONE snow day would be AWESOME!!!

But life goes on … I guess it has been nice to be comfortably outside so often these last few weeks.  My husband’s old Buick has no heat, so I’m sure he is thankful to not freeze to death each morning on his way to work … It’s the little things you have to remember to be thankful for?!

Such as little princesses going to princess birthday parties:

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(this is MiMi with our babysitter’s daughter)

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Sometimes I get a little frustrated with the ordinary.  While I am so incredibly thankful for my job, I’ve been finding myself daydreaming about being HOME during work hours.  I find my thoughts dwelling on “why is everything SO HARD?!” sometimes.  I guess that’s why JOY is a choice.  :-/  The struggle is real, yes; but I try to SPEAK JOY so that my brain might believe it, playing mind games with myself:  if you fake it, you will make it!!

In being “real” though, I can’t help but tell you IT ISN’T ALWAYS THAT EASY!!

Recently my husband was craving some good, old-fashioned preaching (another struggle/dilemma we are in right now – not ready to share on the blog:  church), he was listening to BBN radio!  Wow, what a blast from MY past – BBN was our “go-to” Christian station back in the 1980’s before “Christian radio” was the norm.  Now Daniel sometimes listens to it on BNN.com.  ANYHOO ….

Daniel and I like to listen to Ravi Zacharias, which is why we went there in the first place, but afterward, they were featuring a re-run sermon from a long time ago:  Ron Comfort, speaking in a chapel service sometime in the early 1990’s.  Anyway, I was kind of coming and going through the living room, half-listening – but I heard Dr Comfort make this statement that stopped me and still lingers in my brain:

If you are unhappy right now, you are out of God’s will.   

At first, I was mad (which equals NOT HAPPY?!?!!!!) … and I adamantly disagreed!

I’ve always heard that there is a difference between JOY and “happiness”.  You choose JOY – but you aren’t always happy.  I mean, was Corrie ten Boom HAPPY every day in her concentration camp?  Was Joseph (of the Bible) happy when he was unjustly imprisoned??  Are martyrs who are burning at the stake happy??  Was Martin Luther happy about being pursued because Catholics wanted to KILL HIM??  And I could go on … Was Jesus HAPPY about going to the cross?!?

I don’t know.  Maybe they were able to make the best of their circumstances because they knew they were in the midst of God’s perfect plan (especially Jesus, of course!!) …

But I think I figured out that the reason I was so mad at this statement by Dr. Comfort was that I’m not always HAPPY … and I like to think that I’m on a path that is guided by God.  I am still in this dilemma over what all has been results of our choices and/or God’s will these last few years that has made our life less-than-easy right now, here in wanna-be-properous, material-and-success-drive America.  Some days I am NOT happy that I have to go to work, that my husband is in a job that is below his experience – that he works 50-60 hours just to pay the normal bills, that I don’t always like this church we go to, that we have to worry each day if one of our vehicles will fail, and on it goes.  :-/

OF COURSE I know incredibly blessed I am – OF COURSE I know we’ve been miraculously provided for on more than one occasion … but compared to the “American ideal” and quite honestly my own comfort levels, I would rather be a little further ahead at this point in life when instead we are actually far behind.  I thank God for the things He gives us:  3 kids when once upon a time our diagnosis was “infertility” … a house when not so recently we lived in a duplex … 3 cars – granted all very old, very worn-out – but very convenient (when they are all running! ha!).   So many conveniences … so why do I want MORE???

Maybe I’m not so much unhappy as I am UNSATISFIED because believe me, I am INCREDIBLY thankful that we’re doing as well as we are right now!!   6 months of unemployment, my husband having a serious accident, and being taken care of when you can’t take care of yourself makes a person EXTREMELY aware of how vulnerable and needy we can get to be.  It makes you thankful for any crumb given to you … and overwhelmingly humble for every extravagance.

My blog isn’t the one you go to when you want to see amazing talent, learn how to save money and budget well, or be a great Christian wife or mother.  This is my outlet for the daily struggle … at least the one I have.

The Christian life is meant meant to live joyfully, gratefully … and per God’s promise ABUNDANTLY!!!!!  (John chapter 10)  I guess that’s why the Apostle Paul said he DIED to himself DAILY.  It’s a daily choice.  Joy?  Happiness?  Contentment??  Call it what you will …. I think it is kind of all the SAME THING!

And to live joyfully, happily, contentedly, one must daily surrender the negative, brooding thoughts that fill one’s head.  I suppose that comes easier to some than to others.  Paul said we are what we dwell on:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Phil 4:8)

Perhaps happiness IS a “mind game” …  ?!!

In any case, perhaps Dr. Comfort was right:  God wants us to be happy/content/joyful – not miserable/ungrateful/bitter … we just have to CHOOSE to be those things.  Daily. (and for me, sometimes HOURLY!)

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2 Responses to Happiness.

  1. angiemart says:

    I’m sorry to see that my comment is gone. I really resonated with this post, because I too, struggle with keeping my mind on Christ instead of my curcumstances. I have learned to value peace and contentment even when I don’t feel happy, and I think that is easier when you do recognize how much you have in Christ. I definitely struggle with thankfulness. I’ve thought about your post off and on all day yesterday, especially when our pastor’s msg was “Renewing Your Mind.” What a coincidence. What I wrote in the first comment was meant to encourage – that we can’t make ourselves new, even our own mind. That’s Christ’s work. Obviously, we can do as you suggest, die daily and think on the right things. I find asking Him to help and show me how to live more contentedly, thankfully, joyfully, whatever it may be gets me much farther than doing it on my own. I apologize if it came across wrong. I value our bloggy friendship.

    This morning I’m so thankful for new mercies. I seem to need them more and more. He is so faithful, as we struggle, isn’t He? Praise the Lord!

  2. melanie says:

    Dr. Comfort is def ‘old school’ 😀 Hmmm, I should find you some links to Pastor O’Gorman. And give a listen myself –espec if streaming doesn’t work for me today. {home again this Sunday morn – this time b/c I didn’t want to put a shoe on my foot… ha ha. Yes, there’s a story. sigh. Choose Joy!}

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