Sometimes I wish that happiness was a simple thing. That depression and struggles and being overwhelmed and frustrated were simple instead of complex and confusing and difficult. The past few weeks I have been cramming my head with positive thoughts, and it has definitely been changing my outlook on life. I guess I was hoping for a cure all. For the mother pearl solution to all my problems. But positive thinking can only take you so far. (Which does however, happen to be a heck of a lot farther than pessimistic thinking.)
So why is it that when my sister gets to go on some exotic vacation I start feeling sad and jealous and sorry for myself? I have been non stop chanting “I am happy when other people are happy” and while those words help…deep down I still feel kind of jealous.
Why is it that even though I keep saying “God will bless me abundantly with the things that I need” I still look out my back window at my unfinished backyard, and the notice from the city that says we need to finish it by the end of the summer…and I am filled with stress and panic and anxiety?
Why is it that even though I say “I deeply and completely accept myself as I am right now” I still get frustrated that I’m not better?
And why am I not patient even though I keep telling myself that I am????
I think words are powerful. I honestly don’t think we can become anything we don’t believe we can become. If we don’t believe we can become optimistic we will always be pessimists. If we don’t believe that we can be happy when other people are successful and get to go on nice trips and we just get to stay home…then we definitely will NOT be happy. If we don’t express our faith and trust in God when times are tough, then how will we ever have real faith? If we don’t think that we are of infinite value, we will never truly know that we are valuable beyond belief. And If we don’t believe that deep down inside of us their is a reservoir of patience just waiting to be discovered…we will never find it.
Words (and thoughts) are powerful.
But God is even more powerful.
Yesterday I realized that maybe it is my part to change my thinking, and Gods part to change the way I am feeling.
I can say things like “I am happy when other people are happy.” and “I am filled with joy when others succeed, or have their dreams fulfilled.” But I can’t force myself to actually feel that way. But if I really truly desire those feelings, God can give them to me…if I ask.
But do I really want it? Or don’t I?
Sometimes jealousy and pain and envy and anger and sadness are hard feelings to let go of (they can be tricky). It seems so silly. It doesn’t make sense that I would want to cling so tightly to those kinds of feelings. But I do. I feel so justified. So right. So hurt. So neglected. So sad. And it only seems fair that I feel the way I do. It seems unfair to let them go…you know?! Like maybe I would be letting the other person off the hook or accepting the fact that I wont be going on a nice vacation or something. So do I really want to feel better? Do I really really want to let it go?
Yesterday it dawned on me that I have to do more than just “think positive thoughts” about situations, I have to do more…and be willing to let my feelings go. I can’t just change my thinking about a situation (though this is a start), I have to also be willing to allow God to take my feelings of jealousy away, my feelings of anger away, my feelings of pain and anxiety away. I have to be willing and ready to give them to him. literally.
What would it be like to not have to feel like this anymore? What would I feel like if I really let God have this? Would I be ok if I forgave this person? Would I be ok if I forgave myself? Would it be ok if someone else came up on top? Would I be ok if I allowed myself to rejoice in the joys of others while perhaps I am suffering myself? Seriously hard questions to answer. But when the answer finally turns into a yes…and you cry out to God and say “I am finally ready for you to take this pain away, this pain that Jesus has already suffered, this pain that I have been desperately clinging too…I don’t need (or want) this pain anymore…” I think it is in these kinds of moments that life becomes beautiful again. That we become beautiful. That we become free.
Maybe happiness isn’t found in thinking “I am happy when other people are happy” Maybe true happiness is found when I really desire to feel that way. Maybe it doesn’t come from thinking “I am a forgiving person” but maybe it comes when I am actually ready to be filled with feelings of forgiveness. When I don’t just say it, But I actually mean it, and I actually want it. And maybe it is in this moment that God steps in and changes everything.