Friday, February 4, 2011

Chapter 25(?): "joy" vs "happy" (both)

Chapter 25? (my guess is as good as yours): "joy" versus "happy"

Here is another post for the present check box.

The past few years I've had this significant shift inside where being happy has almost become a curse, something I run from, and yes I'm serious.

Now before I go one sentence further, be sure you don't hear what I'm not saying.  I'm not saying I'm depressed or sad, (although there have been moments of this), and I'm not saying I have not clung to joy for that has been at the root of my emotional state - sovereign joy...

I'm saying that the word "happy" has become an emotion I have steered away from maybe (most likely) to a negative extreme.

If anyone else said what I just said, I'd be worried about them, but let me explain (and please do not worry :-) )

Once I began to actually see the hurt, pain, loss, true need of others --- I did not want to be happy with my life.  I wanted to fight for the ones who didn't have anything, that didn't have Him.  And the real point is I DID NOT want to find happiness in the life I created - in my stuff, in my possessions, in my successes... because none of those things were things I should be happy about those things made me feel extreme guilt - they all had a me-focus, not a He-focus.

So instead of finding happiness I substituted that feeling with perseverance - not stopping until I did whatever I could do to bring Him glory. With the best of intentions, the purest of motives, the heart for the untold story, for the life about to change, for hope that could be restored, for someone to come to see Him through me just living obediently.

As I drew closer to Him, and listened to His will for me and tried to walk in obedience (which was usually a much harder and narrow road) I found myself always needing to suffer for Christ, stretching myself to thin, and believing that was a part of His greater plan for my life.  "the life of a follower is called to be difficult, right? It's not a promise of a life made easy, but just the opposite, a life of persecution."

So I started justifying in some weird sense that my tiredness and weary spirit was a normal part of the obedient life of a follower of Christ...

And I'm not saying it's not a normal part --- I think it's a marginal part.  I think God walks us through different seasons with different levels of what it means to "suffer" for Him.  But I don't think we should get caught up in the suffering as much as the "living" for Him.  Something I am still learning - 20 years into following Him... :-)

But a few months ago, I was near burn out... I had grown very weak, I could not sleep, I was overwhelmingly stretched and justifying each step of my continued balancing act because each step felt directed by Him... Until one day I woke up and my body felt the wear and tear, and it was like God said, "ok, it's time for a new plan.  You have done all I needed you to do in this capacity, now I'm going to give you some rest."

And I didn't want to... Because what I was receiving in my giving was almost as gratifying as knowing I was doing had been what I was called to do.  I enjoyed being able to see people change, and in their changes God was changing me...  I was learning true joy.

And He kept saying - "ok, Rach, it's enough, I'm ready for you to do something else." and I just kept making excuses... Until He made it beyond clear, and yet I still wasn't happy with either outcome.  

I was not happy... And I couldn't remember the last time I had been.

So, I started researching and digging in my bible... Praying - are we supposed to feel happy?  I had felt abundantly joyful, but joy isn't happiness... It's very different.  Happiness is a feeling... Joy is a way of life.  Joy was with me all the time.  Happiness was a feeling that hit me at times.  

In my research (google) :-) -- I stumbled upon someone who said that the Hebrew and Greek translations of "happy" were really translated into the word joy.  Because happy, comes from the word - happenstance which means random, inconsistent feeling, not deep, unabiding.

This blog isn't meant to serve as an argument whether happiness is okay or not, :-).  I believe it is a God given emotion, and is perfectly valid.  I'm learning though that being "happy" doesn't really matter a whole lot to me, as learning to be content and finding true joy.

The sovereign kind... 

If you have some extra time listen to this podcast by Gary Oliver - he expresses this so much better than I could - 

http://audio.fbcnwa.org/Saturday/121110_GO.mp3

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