Happy July 9th to all reading this blog post. I didn’t plan on writing today. In the recent past I have scheduled a time for writing and done several blogs at one time – when the words/creative expression felt like they were flowing.
Today I have been pondering a question that a dear friend of mine trusted me with.
She basically asked me – how do I stay happy, or how do you become a happy person even when you aren’t.
First, let me say that this implies that she thinks I am happy or may have some insight into this – which makes me feel good about how I “show” myself to others.
Second, let me say that even tho I may be perceived as a happy person – that’s probably only a little bit true. I have spent most of my life as the “Smile” girl – the person that always had a smile on her face, even when life was rough. The smile wasn’t real tho. It was just a mask that I used to cover up stuff and not have to “feel” what was happening to me or around me.
Learning to really feel is still new to me. In the past, I was emotional and sensitive but that’s not the same as feeling. Feeling for me at this point is almost painful. I mean, for real – hurts. I have spent so much of my life running from feelings that when I experience something now and actually let myself feel it (good or bad) it’s almost too much to take.
For me – there is a big difference between happiness and joy. Happiness happens when everything is going right and “all is well with the world”. Joy happens when I trust that even if “all is NOT right with the world” God is in control and my hope is in him.
I think part of the issue is that this person knows my story and can see how I might have reason to not be “happy” – and you know, she is right. Happy isn’t my goal joy is but with that said here are a few things that I think that can (and have) contributed to the joyful outlook I have on life.
- God loves me. And even more than that he LIKES me. He thinks I am pretty freaking amazing and am never too much for him and never too little.
- I remember that in every situation – I have a choice. I may not like my choices – but I always have one.
- To try and make yourself something you are not – by sheer willpower will never work. If you say you want to be happy/joyful and by golly, I am going to be! No matter what…that won’t work. So maybe instead of trying to force yourself to be something that you aren’t – find one thing that you can do that will help you “be” the thing/way you want. An example for me is for me to feel happy/joyful I like to connect with people on a heart level – I don’t do small talk well. So, once a month I am hosting a women’s event that allows us to grow our business while connecting at a heart level. That one thing doesn’t change all the other areas of my life – but that one thing is a stepping stone to creating the life I want.
- I have really taken to heart the concept of “would I rather be right or happy” – think about that. There are situations in my life that have really sucked – and still, suck. I can make my point and be “Right” or I can make a choice (which I always have) to be happy and just let it go. So much of the stuff that we put so much pressure on being “right” won’t even matter a few weeks from now – much less in eternity.
With ALL that said – there are sometimes and some people that deal with this overwhelming sadness (depression) that just consumes them and makes them feel like they can not breathe. Nothing they do on their own – no amount of prayer can fix it.
I don’t want to suggest that you don’t pray – but what I am saying is that sometimes, there really is a brain chemical imbalance that requires medication to manage the real depression/sadness that they are feeling.
In the past, the church has not done a very good job of connecting with and helping people that are going through real life issues – like depression. I am happy to see a new found love for real grace, love, and acceptance from many churches. They realized that they had made a mess of this and are seeking to do differently now. But the sad truth is that so many people have been hurt by the church – that the church is the last place they would look for help at. And that to me is heartbreaking.
I have been depressed in my life, situationally, and have taken meds as needed. So – if you need meds – take them. Take the time to find the right doctor to help you get them just right because it’s not just a quick fix – each person is different and will need something just for them.
I have been suicidal. Many times and no one around me even knew it. Which is heartbreaking to me as well.
My best “medicine” for someone that is suffering from depression and is desperately wanting to experience joy and/or happiness is to figure out if your situation is situational or if you could be clinically depressed. Once you know that, then you can take steps towards creating the life that you want to live. The ideas I listed above (1-4) are for someone that is just seeking joy/happiness but they are not clinically depressed. If you are clinically depressed – I would add one step before the ones I have listed = figure out your medicine and take it as prescribed….then do the other steps, smile.
After you do that – I would highly encourage you to have someone you can be real with about your struggles – the good the bad and the ugly. No shame. No judgment. Just raw truth. Until we can be totally transparent and vulnerable with someone (not everyone, just someone) we will have a tendency to keep slipping back into the darkness.
Find one thing you love – and do it. It can be simple, but making time to do something just for you really is healing. You matter. By taking care of yourself you will remind yourself that you have value in this world. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so be sure to fill yourself up to be ready to pour yourself out by living the life that God created you to live.
My last suggestion is to be willing to feel all the feels…good and bad – if you don’t feel safe to do that on your own then act the person that you trusted to share everything with to be there with you as you are experiencing what you need to. I have recently come to truly understand that to really dig deep and create a life that I am proud of and want to live I need to work through all the hurts, habits and hang-ups that I have buried for so many years. You can’t just pretend that they didn’t happen. Well, you can, but I don’t think you can experience full healing until you have felt it – at least that is true for me.
To my sweet friend that asked me this question, and all of us out there just like her I say: DO NOT GIVE UP. Keep fighting. You are loved. You are valuable. You matter.
You have a story of grace, love, forgiveness and so much more to tell all the world around you. You don’t have to stay the same way that you are now. You can do different. I know you can because I am.
In the Bible, it says to love God and love others as yourself. To love God and others (in my opinion) you have to start by loving yourself – and that is what I had been missing for so long. I had so much shame and regret that I thought that I was unlovable. When you don’t even like yourself – it’s hard to imagine a holy God loves you, and even likes you. So maybe part of what you need to do right now – at this moment – is to forgive yourself.
Read that again – FORGIVE YOURSELF.
And accept that forgiveness from God.
Father – thank you so much for the people in my life that help me be better. People that I see are being drawn more to you every day. I pray that I might continue to shine your light so brightly that when someone sees me – they see you. Right now I want to pray specifically for all people struggling with depression. Guide their hearts towards yours in a way that reminds them that they are loved. Help them find the joy that they are so desperately seeking and know that they can trust you for their every need. We love you, Lord. Amen.
Listen to this song with your heart and maybe it will bless you like it does me: