Chasing Happiness

Chasing Happiness

Sometimes I hesitate writing anything that seems to be unthankful, unhappy, ungrateful because I will get that one (or more) comment scolding me.

And it just eats away at me.

I wish it didn’t. I certainly don’t dwell on those as much as I used to, but I wish I didn’t at all.

In my mind, I think of all the responses to change their mind. Usually it comes from someone who has read a post without any background info on us or our situation, and they rush to inform me of how off track I am. I spend time thinking of the perfect answer so they understand why I wrote what I did, and yet I know that in 99.9% of those cases it won’t matter what I tell them.

Some people just can’t handle an opinion or way of dealing with something that might be different from theirs.

Heck. Apparently I can’t either. 

I am working in therapy about not having to constantly justify my feelings in this process. That feeling angry, left out, abandoned, confused, happy, sad, elated are normal feelings. It’s just that so many of us are programmed to believe happy is the only way anyone should feel. Ever. Even during loss – let’s all look for the happy/blessing/grateful part and just cling to that. Don’t tell anyone you wanted more kids, your mom to live longer, or that sometimes you long to have a few moments to yourself – you should be thankful you get anything at all.

After all. Someone has it worse. So.

O_o

Where is that in the Bible? I don’t ever remember Jesus being called happy or constantly telling people to look on the bright side. Or to be grateful for what they had. Where did we all get this idea that we have to be perpetually in a state of seeking out bliss? Yes, we’re told to focus on things that are lovely, but we’ve taken it to a level of living in a world of unrealistic views and expectations on what life should be.

So irritating. And exhausting.

We all so obsessed with constantly being in a state that only happens for brief amounts of time in our lives. Why can’t we just start to really sit and be in the other majority of feelings?

What are we all so afraid of? These comments still make me feel as if I’ve done something wrong – when I know in my heart that’s not the case.


Comments

  1. Live your life. Feel how you feel. Say what you want to say. As you’ve said multiple times, this is YOUR space, use it as such. They don’t have to read. Let them walk a mile in your shoes and see if they’re all chipper and upbeat all the time. I doubt it, no matter how strong their faith or how hard they cling to Scripture.

  2. Elizabeth Clements says:

    I like Matthew 6:26-34 where Jesus says "fuhgedaboutit!" Good enough for me.

    • Donna Schennum says:

      I like that, Elizabeth Clements.. Even Paul, who had the great conversion on the road to Damascus, had an issue he dealt with (we don’t know specifically what it was) after his conversion.(II Corinthians 12:7-9) He even asked God why he still had it to deal with.. God said His grace was sufficient..for power is perfected in weakness. We need to be “allowed” to feel, that is how we are created. Blessings and peace to you Diana through this wilderness.

  3. Elizabeth Lovelace says:

    Yep. I know what you mean.

  4. I think you said it perfectly, Diana. We are afraid. Afraid to be real and vulnerable. Our society has programmed us to think that if you are not happy then you’re not okay. But, it is perfectly okay for you to be angry or sad or whatever you are feeling especially in this process of grief you are in right now. And even when we are not grieving, it is okay to not always be happy. Continuing to pray for you in this journey.

  5. Well said!

  6. I have also spent my fair share of time in therapy dealing with how to just be me. Mind you that has nothing to do with personal life struggles….but just in admitting I am not ok. For the longest time I couldn't really express or talk about being mad or angry because I would feel that I was being judged. I love this post and I am glad you have such great support so you can be just who you need to be and and feel just what you need to feel that is right for you

  7. I like this quote: “Saying someone can’t be sad because others have it worse is like saying someone can’t be happy because others have it better.”

  8. Like Stacy commented above, this is your space and you get to decide what does and doesn’t get published. So many people think having a different opinion from another person is the same thing as that person being right and the other being wrong. Opinions are not facts.

    On the topic of the need to constantly be happy, I read an article years ago arguing that the American dream is completely skewed and not at all what it was originally meant to be. Instead of equal opportunities to education and employment and the right to live your life according to your beliefs, people have taken the American dream to mean bigger materialistic things than the prior generation…that it has turned into a competition. I think the same ideas have been applied to our feelings that we’re somehow failing by experiencing (and admitting) anything other than complete happiness and contentment.

  9. Diana – have you read any of the Brene Brown books? I think The Gifts of Imperfection would be a great read….. after Lent :) She talks specifically about being authentic and letting yourself feel the full range of emotions. All of it.

  10. I love your point about Jesus not telling everyone to be upbeat. In fact He was known as the man of sorrows (Isaiah 53:3). Something the American church has moved away from to our detriment. He is with you in all of this.

  11. Diana, I think I inadvertently wrote one of the posts that you may have felt was scolding. I didn't realize it until several days later, and then it seemed too late to correct. It was in response to a post in which you could see no benefit in your situation, and I shared some of the ways that God had used our son's death. In that post, I was seeking to give you hope, not scold you. Just saying this to say that some of the times that someone seems to be scolding, they may just not realize how they are coming across. Be who you are. Walk through this with Jesus in the way that the two of you see as best. And know that we care even if we are sometimes clumsy in how we express it. Blessings.

  12. Grace Park Cho says:

    you're right. i'm learning that comforting others through grief is a long- term thing and that each loss is deep and unique. i understand so much more now the comforting promise that God is always with us. no conditions. no expectations to be/feel what we're not.

  13. I think there’s a gendered component to this; women are supposed to be nice. I think we don’t hear enough about how much trouble Mary made for everyone by being honest about the immaculate conception. Or how much Mary Magdalene must have felt to keep going to Jesus’s tomb, even before she was the one to find that his body was gone. The Bible is full of trouble-making women, but they are always painted looking serene, even if grieving. Nice girls don’t go around asking WHY?! and being upset in front of people.

  14. You’re exactly right–you haven’t done a thing wrong. There’s no place in the Bible that even infers that Christians should be happy all the time. Or “blessed”, and I’m sorry for any time that you’ve been told otherwise.

    One of the most amazing things about Christianity, I think, is that we have a Savior who has been here. He has experienced all human emotions. Heck, in the garden of Gesthemane, we see Jesus say, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” Overwhelmed with sorrow. That’s certainly not bright and cheery. Not “blessed”. And yet, he did not sin.

    Our emotions aren’t sin, and they aren’t wrong.

  15. Erin Perry says:

    I hear you loud and clear! Feelings matter no matter what other people have to say!

  16. Bethany says:

    So true, Diana. Many times people say those things and while they may be coming from a “good place,” they may also be a projection of that person’s struggle. That verse also tells us to “whatever things are true…think on these things.” Sometimes what is true is that we are hurt, angry, confused, and that life isn’t going that great right now and things just suck. God is the One who knows our hearts and holds us as we process through those true things. Your process has blessed so many and has helped to validate and bring awareness to the reality of grief – even when you have your faith to cling to during it.

  17. Just YES. Yes to all of this.

  18. Katie P. says:

    Just wanted to say thank you for vocalizing this! I started reading your blog several weeks ago after my first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. I am so sorry for your losses! You seem to put into words how I feel about several things, this topic included. I feel this way often but always feel like it is so inappropriate to state my feelings when those around me do all the time! You are totally right, when did it ever get to that point? And why?! Anyway, this is the first comment I have posted but wanted to say thank you for being genuine and sharing your story with us. It has really ministered to me.

  19. Beautifully said. I admire your writing which seems so fearless. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  20. Diana… it makes my heart ache and honestly just makes me angry that you’ve had to deal with any of that negativity.

    I have no clue how hard all this must be. NO idea how those boys lives have changed you. I can imagine, but I don’t know.

    You should feel the freedom to feel any way you feel. God is so freaking capable of dealing with anything you throw his way. Anger. Happiness. Sadness. Ungratefulness. All the curse words. Someone I saw speak said this, “It’s great if a church wants to have a praise band, as long as they have a lament band as well.” Lamenting is a part of life. I believe God designed that way,… I feel like if he didn’t want us to let our grief and despair in, half of the Psalms wouldn’t be there, and Lamentations would have been thrown out.

    All that to say, feel how you feel. God can and wants to hold you in that.

    Also… Love this quote.

    “Saying Someone Can’t Be Sad Because Someone Else May Have It Worse Is Just Like Saying Someone Can’t Be Happy Because Someone Else Might Have It Better.” – Unknown

    Love you friend, and praying for you often. xoxo

  21. You ROCK Diana! I love that you say at times what all of us are thinking and dont say aloud. :)

  22. I love this. You’re so insightful and right on the mark.

  23. Telling someone to not be sad because someone has it worse is like telling someone to not be happy because someone has it better.

    Unless someone has been through something similar they can’t understand. I haven’t even read your story yet except I know you’ve had loss and are adopting. I’ve lost multiple babies (miscarriages) and I am currently adopting our sweet baby girl and I’m amazed at what people say, most mean well and just have no idea, but it’s still hard sometimes at their ignorance. And hard to know if I should educate them or just ignore it and move on.
    I can’t say I know how you feel but I can say healing from my losses felt nearly impossible and is still on going. 4 years later. People don’t get it and I’m learning that it’s okay they don’t get it. I don’t need them too. But I can say my little miracle angel has healed my heart more than time ever did :)
    Now I’m going to go read your blog. Wish I had been better and recording my feelings I know it would have helped me.

    • Oh Julie, thanks for sharing your heart here. I’m loving that saying.
      As you read, you’ll find our adoption fell through. We got pregnant again and after a rough pregnancy had our son full term. He was unexpectedly diagnosed at 5 days old with cardiomyopathy and rushed to Children’s. He passed away this past August at 3 weeks old.
      We are just really struggling right now, but I appreciate your words of affirmation to us.

  24. I don’t even know how I found this post but girl, PREACH IT. I get really annoyed with Facebook sometimes because everyone is always “blessed”, like ALL the time. Why can’t we talk about the bad stuff too?? I’d like to think even God sits back sometimes and is like “Well this week has just sucked”. I mean, life can just be crap sometimes, and that is just life. If your lucky the “crap” can make you laugh. Either way… I get irked A LOT and I need to vent but find myself not wanting to be judged as a total Debbie Downer. I just want to vent!! Anyway…lol, thanks for your post.

  25. I think that a lot of ppl are scared of those other feeling and happy jus seems to be the easiest one so at times when somebody isn't even happy thts the one always tend to go to….

  26. Mom4Grace @simplygrace (Twitter) says:

    Diana, I just stumbled on to your blog today because I followed a link and watched the video of the two parents lip-syncing to along to a song from Frozen. I had no idea that many of the devotionals I’ve been reading on SheReadsTruth were yours! What a journey you have been on, especially the last few months (a mother’s heart counts the days, hours, and minutes of loss, so forgive me for my ambiguity). First, I am so very sorry for the cavernous ache in your heart. No words are good enough, no reason sufficient, for the suffering you are experiencing, and no apology is adequate for the wounds of words inflicted on you by others. I only have one admonition for you as you grieve: LEAN. Lean hard into your emotions–anger, bitterness, sorrow, grief and the myriad of others that I cannot begin to name. Don’t fight them–let the come. God is big enough to handle all of them moment by moment and there is not one that His grace does not cover. In fact, I found that LEANING is what LEADS me to grace. Thank you for letting me in on your journey. I will be praying for you.

  27. Rachel Kristine Hubbard says:

    All I can think to say is I LOVE YOU. and thank you.

  28. Linda Flueckinger Denadel says:

    Oh my goodness. Thank you so much for that. I'm often down on myself for my failing to see how blessed I am, for not looking at the bright side, or forgetting to be grateful and positive every single moment.

  29. Nadia Cannizzo says:

    I totally agree with you ..

  30. That's why I like reading Job and the Psalms. Job is a really sad and happy story. And the Psalms really seem to balance the things out: when he is sad he IS sad. When he feels lost and can't see God's face – he feels that way and is not afraid to admit it. But there are also the momments of happinness and hope. So it's like: feel what you feel and hand it over to the Lord. Don't be afraid to tell Him that you don't see Him. Or whatever. That's just something I think and try and live :3

  31. Love this post. After all, Jesus was the Man of Sorrows. Life until He comes back is filled with sadness and joy both. Thanks for sharing.

  32. It isn't religion, but the Stoic philosophy is based on the premise that bad things happening are normal. It is refreshing to the extent that it doesn't preach happiness, happiness, happiness. Marcus Aurelius's (the roman emperor) writings are available on google books. This made me think of him because he lost his daughter and had a lot of trouble with it.

  33. Kimberly Williams Calderon says:

    Wow. I just ran across you today on FB. I LOVE your honesty. I almost feel like I could sit down and have coffee with you and share my story with you and we would become instant friends. "Happiness" is so superficial. I've been working through the ups & downs of depression for almost 8 yrs now. Therapy, meds, prayer, etc. being a Christian, everyone thinks there is magic in religion and all your sadness should just disappear. Well, it's been a long, hard, steep, dark, winding road and it is never easy. For me, I'm learning to be happy. I'm accepting it, along with sadness, anger, bitterness, grief, love, friendship, and many many other forms of emotions that I was so comfused about as a kid. In the last 8 years I've learned that god loves me , and I accept that, I like myself, I'm blessed to have a husband who is my best friend

  34. Kimberly Williams Calderon says:

    One more thing: thank you for being brave and sharing your story. AND for having the awesome attitude that "who cares what people think!" It has taken me years to get that one! God bless!

  35. I learned that from my marriage counselor, and it’s such an important lesson, that all feelings ARE valid. It doesn’t mean we base all of our actions on these feelings. But they are valid and it’s okay to express them. You’re right, happiness is not a permanent state of bliss.

  36. The Christian woman is taught to submit all of herself into a prescribed box of perfect womanhood which has a very shiny cover. She is patrolled in church & at social events, which she then carries into her private moments and patrols herself. There is a steep price for not presenting this shiny cover. It is the disapproval of which you speak which shakes her fuel-source of approval from others. It is good to challenge this fake standard and paradigm. Good for you for taking the first steps. Authenticity is a gift in itself. Faking takes a lot of energy.

  37. Thank you for saying this “out loud”. It feels so comforting to hear someone say it because, in the midst of loss and uncertainty, I just can’t get to the “be happy and grateful” part all the time. Sometimes I feel guilty about that. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who sees that as a somewhat unreasonable expectation…

  38. I keep coming back to this and I can’t stop thinking about it. Shaming a grieving parent is one of the lowest things I’ve humanity I’ve seen. You’re brave for sharing and to keep sharing. I got enough of you shouldn’t feel, this, that or whatever the opinion was. I think what you shared is really compassionate. It’s easy to shame the person shaming, and I get so so angry and want to throw my computer whenever I get a comment on how terrible i am for feeling angry. This is love and I wish I could show more of this.

  39. This hits so close to home right now. I’m angry, frustrated, exhausted and WANT to feel this way right now. No apologies and guilt please. I am already aware of my blessings (I can go there mentally and picture my two beautiful children, husband, home, etc), however it does not diminish the anger (at this moment) of watching my baby suffering, and nothing I can do. My anger feels good right now, and somehow I don’t feel alone with it. I feel God has given me the strength to feel all over again tomorrow.

    Thank you for sharing, it’s good to know that anger is ok too. That chasing happiness is not always realistic .

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