Joy and happiness

Last week, I was driving over to my mom’s house when the song “Dear Younger Me” came on the radio. I often over analyze music in the car and this time was no exception. I began thinking how I try to live in a way where I don’t view my past with any regrets, but if I had a choice, maybe younger me could teach current me a thing or two instead of the other way around.

My younger self was happy all of the time. Giddy, jumping up and down, excited with a zeal for life. How I wish my younger self could tell me how I was so happy all the time. Eventually though, something happened that really upset me and I realized I didn’t want to be happy about it. Everyone around me had come to expect that ‘happy girl’ though, so it was pretty difficult to make them see me not happy. I specifically remember telling myself, “it’s okay not to be happy 100% of the time.” So, I began letting other emotions show. Now, at 32, many more things have happened in my life than I can even list here, but I know that I simply want to be happy all the time again. Why did I ever give that up?

As I thought about all of these things, I found myself understanding this song, “Dear Younger Me” more and more. Regrets or not, lessons learned throughout life sure do make hindsight seem 20/20. While I have learned a lot, and wish I could tell my younger self about things I know now, I don’t think I would tell her to have remained happy all the time. What would I advise that young, strong minded, no longer happy-all-the-time teen? I would tell her the difference between emotions and the lasting experience of a foundation built in Christ.

While I definitely had my heart founded in Christ back then in certain ways, a lot of wisdom is catching up to me in these older years. I would tell her that she was right, it was okay not to be happy all the time. I would also tell her that our emotions, however fleeting, do not define us. Christ gives us the grace of lasting joy, lasting peace, and lasting perfect love. Those things can keep going all the time as long as their source is in God. I can feel sad while I have joy, anger when I have peace, and even annoyed when I have love. It sounds conflicting, but as human beings we will always experience complex emotions, none of which will last forever. God always provides us with a constant flow of His grace though, as long as we keep the door open to Him to be our source.

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