“Are you really sure you’re happy? Most people would be angry, you know.” This question has been posed countless times in the past 14 months. Most recently it came up in a neurology meeting (it is their job to figure out exactly why my brain does what is does, after all). My answer – yes I am actually happy – surprises almost everyone. Before you read any further though, I do owe one contextual clarification: For me, “happy” means “joyful”. It doesn’t have to be a 24/7 elated feeling, but it is an outlook that’s available to me every day. It’s based on my belief in God. The past few weeks have been pretty rough on all of us (if you need a recap, check out Ivan’s post), but I would still call joy – happiness, if you will – my chosen outlook. Even after I explain this, though, it can be difficult to believe I’m actually telling the truth. Here’s why I am.
Any outlook is a choice. I don’t operate the way I do just by accident, and I can’t stay on track without a whole lot of effort. I’m required to look beyond how I feel to something larger than myself. But before we get to that big picture, here’s how I explain my life to myself on a daily basis: I could have…but didn’t. This sounds vague at best and possibly negative at worst, so here are a few specific examples:
- I should have died, but didn’t
- I could be unable to use my left hand, but it works surprisingly well
- I should have giant mental deficits, but I don’t
- My family could have been unwilling or unable (then and now) to invest so much toward helping me get better, but they weren’t
- Ivan could still be job hunting, but he’s not
- I could still be stuck on the waiting list for a seizure specialist, but I’m not
- I could still be in several therapy regimens, but I graduated from every single one of them
It’s hard to be angry when I count all the terrible things that didn’t happen to me. So many people don’t beat the debilitating odds against them at all. So many people beat them far better than I have but receive far less attention and support. I’ve been given so very much.
Notwithstanding, I’m sure some of you did spot a pitfall in my outlook strategy: it works fantastically well the opposite way, too. “I could be almost done with grad school, but I’m not”; “I could be out making friends and having fun in our new city, but I’m not”; “I could be teaching violin and freelancing, but I’m not”…
This is where the choice part comes in. I simply cannot afford to choose the dark side. True, I’ve had moments when anger and bitterness would have felt so much better than fighting for happiness. I’ve had moments when I just wanted to give in. BUT I knew if I made a habit of going there I’d eventually lose everything: my will to get better, my beautiful relationship with my husband, my appreciation for my family … Most of all, I would risk losing my reverence for God. If I didn’t appreciate life as only His to give or take away, it would be easy to forget that my life is a gift. It would be easy to complain that living takes too much work. It would be easy to say that any type of painful life is a mistake. But if life is truly from God, I would hate to see Him face-to-face at the end if I’d called His gift a mistake. A present is meant to be used, not thrown away. God gives gifts, and He never gives them poorly.
So yes. I am actually happy.
8 thoughts on “The Happy Choice”
Thanks for the wonderful post, Grace. Your trust and joy in Christ has been an incredible blessing! We have been following your journey and are praying for you and Ivan and your family.
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I know that you can do all of this because of your faith in Christ and love for the Lord. The joy you have comes from within as Kay Warren explains in her book “Choose Joy.” BTW, this is a great Bible study book. After she wrote that book, she lost her son to suicide. HOWEVER, I am still amazed at how you can have such a sweet attitude and deal with your pain and slow steps of progress but it’s all because of God’s amazing grace! Continued prayers for you, Grace, and Ivan and your family.
Thanks for the book recommendation! I love reading 🙂
Dottie and I love you and Ivan so much and so does everyone at CCOT . We believe in God and know that you are totally a daughter of his in all ways . We are praying for you and Ivan and that you will never loose your “Joy. ”
Roger and Dottie Moore
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Again looking at the glass half full is amazing and encouraging to all of us looking on. Keep writing Grace. God is and will use it for His glory.
Here’s one – you should be too busy for a ministry blog, but you’re not. God has given you the gifts of a dynamic writing ability, compelling arguments, and clarified priorities. Who knew that you would have such a powerful outreach that would encourage and challenge so many? God did! May this be one of the reasons you continue to choose joy and gratefulness! I know that your outlook spurs me to do the same, and I am grateful.
Thanks, Samantha! I’m grateful for a chance to share all the things – good and bad – that we are learning, and pray God will keep using it for His glory.
what a beautiful example of contentment in God! i will be sharing this with people who need that encouragement!
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