My fiance often trickily asks me “are you happy?” to judge if I’m really ok.
At times, I am. I respond quickly, assuring him that I am, indeed, fine. There are times, though, where I shy away from the question.
I don’t want to lie, but I also don’t want to admit that I’m not great. He will ask me to look him in the eyes and tell him what’s up.
Recently, I was asked this question when I was visibly not in the best mood. In the midst of a stressful season of life, we had conversations like these a few times. My guy would remind me of all the good in my life and all the things that excited me about the future. He would remind me that God had a great and perfect plan for us. After reminding me of all these things, he would ask again: “are you happy”? On this day, I said “I can’t be”. He jokingly responded, “Well, I give you permission to be happy”.
It was only after he said this that I realized what was happening. I wasn’t allowing myself to embrace the great things that were happening because of I was worried about the detours my life had taken and every detail fitting perfectly into my plans. Sound familiar at all? It took me a while to realize it, but it was the only reason I was so dissatisfied with my circumstances. I realized I was holding a perfect idea for my life above the one story God had given me to live.
Maybe one thing in your life keeps you from feeling truly content with wherever your life is at, like your financial or relationship status. Maybe you feel you’re not talented. Maybe you don’t feel attractive enough. Happiness is fleeting like any other emotion. It can come and go, but what Christ offers us does not. The gifts Jesus gives us, like peace and joy, are something else entirely. His joy can withstand difficult situations and it is deeper and more meaningful than the worldly happiness when all the things we want are checked off the list.
His peace has allowed me to stand strong when it felt the ground was shaking beneath me. He knows you and He knows what you need. He wants for you to find joy in Him and He is waiting for you to ask. And he’s waiting for you to choose contentment, like Paul, who was in prison when he said he counts his lot in life all joy.
You can choose joy even when you aren’t where you want to be.
When you still have weight to lose. Before you pay off all of your debt. Before you find your mate for life.
I’m not sure where you are in life, but I want to offer you something even more encouraging. I’ll be the first to admit that my relationship with God isn’t where I want it to be.
There were weeks where I spent a lot of time in prayer and reading, when life was going well but I was overwhelmed with a sense that… well… everything was falling apart.
When these feelings return, I have to remind myself of a few things.
God is faithful. And that’s not a cliche.
This may seem like an obvious point because, you know, it’s God. He is all good…but do we believe it? Do we live like it? When our work, relationships, or whatever other area in our life isn’t quite what we expected?
These days, I am choosing to believe (by constantly reminding myself) that He is what I can hold on to for strength and assurance that He’ll work out all things for the good of those who love him. I can 100% trust that His plan is right and that whatever will happen, He has allowed to happen. Let me repeat that so it applies to everyone.
You can 100% trust that His plan has purpose.
You know how I know we can trust Him? Because, “The heart of a man plans his ways, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9) and “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me…” (Psalm 138:8). He will also “…instruct you and teach you in the way you should go.” (Psalm 32:8)
I fail to keep these words in my heart all too often. I struggle with trusting His ways and in the past, it has caused a lot of pain and anxiety in my own life.
So, How should we respond to changes in our plans for a perfect life? By believing His word, plain and simple, when it says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
If your plans are faltering, remember that what He has in store is so much better. Actively seek to trust Him. Speak out all your concerns in His presence and let Him respond with His faithfulness. Let go of your own unease because the peace that comes from letting Him lead you into His purpose is so much better than fruitlessly striving to perfect every detail of your life.
When you find yourself doubting that things will be okay, call to mind verses that will put your focus on the One who deserves your trust. Pray constantly for increased wisdom and peace.
It isn’t as easy in practice as it is to say but it’s a far more worthwhile fight than missing what He’s doing in our lives or living with anxiety towards the future. He is at work when I don’t understand it, and he is good even when the detours keep coming.