Happiness is impossible to define. Let's take a look at Elizabeth Gilbert. She had a great house, a devoted spouse, interesting friends, a successful career...and yet she wasn't happy. I actually find myself in a similar situation. I don't know how "successful" you would consider my career, but I have a wonderful husband, a precious daughter, amazing friends, a supportive extended family, a nice house, a good education, dreams....and yet there are some days where I find myself simply miserable. I started therapy because in my head, it doesn't make sense. I have a life that many people dream of, and yet I'm not happy. Even though I know I have issues that need to be dealt with, I don't think they are the root cause of my depression.
I look back on my life and there was a time when I felt truly happy. It was 1999 - the year I gave my life to Jesus. I went to a Spirit-filled church that touched me so profoundly. I was a part of a cell group, I was active in Campus Crusades, I had real friends, I did fun things, I smiled and laughed a lot. Even my depression seemed to disappear. I was in a close and personal relationship with our Lord. I didn't need anything else; I had everything I needed.
My depression came back with a vengeance recently. I also have recently stopped going to church. I don't think it's a coincidence.
I started out this week writing a list of things that I thought translated into happiness:
~ Happiness is sitting on the floor with Bianca before breakfast and singing the “Good Morning” song to her.
~ Happiness is Harry giving me a tight good morning hug.
~ Happiness is walking into work and hearing Beastie Boys blaring in the background. (Perhaps because it was so unexpected, it made me laugh out loud!)
~ Happiness is drinking hot tea from an inspirational mug from my best friend.
~ Happiness is watching a chick flick in bed with Bianca in my arms.
~ Happiness is a blatantly answered prayer.
~ Happiness is eating a gooey piece of pizza after I have been craving it for days.
~ Happiness is spending the day on the beach with my family.
~ Happiness is getting an A in a class I truly loved.
I even went on the Happiness Project website looking for answers to what makes someone happy. I came to the conclusion that I needed to exercise. After all, people who exercise are healthier, more energetic, think more clearly, sleep better, and have delayed onset of dementia. They get relief from anxiety and mild depression. They perform better at work. My report to you was going to say something along the lines of "I have found the key to happiness: exercise. Obviously I'm not happy because I'm not exercising regularly."
But I realize that Happiness only comes when you are doing what you were created to do - and that is loving, serving, worshiping God. I haven't been doing any of the above, and happiness has eluded me.
The best part of that realization, though, is knowing that I can be happy again....and so much more....if I re-dedicate my life to Christ.
Let me tell you about the "blatantly answered prayer" I mentioned above. I have been so upset that I can't find my new church home. My prayers to God the past two weeks have been a simple, yet desperate one: Please, Lord, let someone invite me to go to church with them.
On Wednesday, my friend Karen sent me an email asking me if I would like to attend a barbeque this Saturday at her church. My heart literally leaped with joy. Karen has been asking me to go to church with her for months. Not consistently, just every now and then. And I always had an excuse of why I couldn't go. My latest excuse I am struggling with is "But it's in Dundalk; I wanted a church close to home." But I'm not going to worry about that now. I'm just going to go to the cookout with her. And we'll take it from there.
One thing I realized, though, is that every church I have ever visited or attended in my life that I absolutely loved was an Assembly of God church. That is the denomination that speaks to my heart and moves me, so I think that's where I belong.
I won't get to go to church this weekend. Harry and I are heading to Ocean City on Sunday morning. We want to have one day at the beach with my sister and Damian before they head back home. But next weekend, I have decided to go. I will either go to Eastern Assembly of God (Karen's church) or I will go to Middle River Assembly of God (5 minutes from my house). I don't care if Harry doesn't want to go with me. God is once again going to claim the number one spot in my life.
Consequently, I have off all next week. I will be spending quality time with Harry, Bianca, my Bible, my journal, and a book. I am also going to make exercising at least a little bit every day a priority.
I will get my life back on track and hopefully back in balance, and ultimately, I will find happiness. I just have to take it one day at a time!