Two people in my life ask me this question: are you happy?
One is my Husband. And when he asks this, he is asking in essence if I’m happy with our life together and if he makes me happy, the wanting-to-make-me-happy man that he is.
The other is my Dad. And when he asks this, he is asking in essence if I’m happy with my life and if my husband makes me happy, the protective man that he is.
It’s sweet and kind and thoughtful to be asked this question, but I honestly never know how to answer.
Not because I’m not self-aware. I am pretty good at this point in my life knowing how I’m feeling at any given moment.
I heard Anne Lamott quote Carrie Fisher as saying something to the effect of, “Happy is one thing that I am most days”. I like that.
But here’s why I struggle to answer that question, a few reasons really.
One, I do not believe it is my husband’s job to make me happy. It’s an inside job, I’ve heard it said. It’s my job. My husband can add to my happiness for sure. Spouses hopefully add to happiness more than not, though some take happiness away. But as far as the whole shebang being on his shoulders? Nope. That’s too much pressure and we shouldn’t be putting that on any one person. (Random: that’s why I cringe whenever I hear in movies or TV shows something like this, “I promise to make you the happiest woman on the face of the earth for the rest of your life.” Unattainable. And, not the point of marriage.)
Two, what is happy anyway? Happy is subjective. Happy is different for every person. Happy is illusive. Happy is circumstantial. What made me happy when I was 5 wouldn’t necessarily make me happy at 51. Heck, what made me happy last week might not make me happy today.
Three, happy is like every other emotion: fleeting. I heard of a composer who had spent his life perfecting his craft, winning an Oscar – the pinnacle award for his work – and he said it bought him 24 hours of happy. How true is that statement??
Finally, for me at least, happy isn’t the goal of my life. Grateful is. Content with who I am and where God has placed me and all He has given me. Peace of mind and heart. Experiencing closeness with Jesus. Knowing how to take care of my heart. Being okay with feeling sad sometimes. Believing the people in my life know that I love them and that I would do anything for them. When I do something that helps someone. When I do something that makes my husband’s life better. Trusting that my kids are going to be okay. Feeling that I’m making a difference in a hurting woman’s life with my words of kindness and support. That is happy to me.
So, dear Husband and dear Dad, thank you for asking. It’s so sweet. And if you’re asking if I’m my definition of happy, most days, yes.
What is your definition of happy?
1) I thought I knew God, understood him. Until that year. Something changed and shifted and made me so uncomfortable. It seemed like I couldn’t hear or see or feel God in any of what ended up being an absolutely horrible 441 day stretch of my life and it was breaking my heart. And then I realized that the mystery was part of the beauty.
I admit I once lived by rumors of you; now I have it all firsthand – from my own eyes and ears! –Job 42:5 (MSG)
I wrote a book about that time and all I felt and learned but I have never released it, but I want to share this story with women who need to be reminded that even when we don’t feel God, He is still there, still loving you, still helping, seeing it all. You can get your free PDF of RUMORS OF YOU: CONFESSIONS OF A HARD YEAR here.
2) Something new is coming soon… https://anchor.fm/elisabeth-klein