I took Luke to see Paddington 2 while Chad is with Grace. It's a completely magical and charming movie and in a way, was life changing for me. Two marmalade-covered-thumbs up.
I've been really struggling with happiness, and not because of depression. I've been disillusioned with life.
I've really been struggling with the Christian faith. Not because of Jesus. He is what's holding me together, but because I'm really angry at all the churches I've been to that taught that if we prayed and believed, that God would bring all things together for my good... and never clarified what my good meant. I assumed that "my good" meant the things I want; prayers answered my way, "unshakable peace" that things are going work out the way I'd like, God providing what I want- as long as we prayed and believed hard enough.
According to the Bible, "my good" actually means suffering that ends in endurance, personal character development, and hope. Not hope in what I want, but hope that God is good and that he has loved us and made a way for us to be reconciled with him. There's no promise that what is good for me will always look good, and there will be things that I will only understand as good in the hindsight of eternity. That's what "my good" actually means. But no one told me that before.
I've also had a hard time with worship at church. I'm so critical of anyone who leads worship, sings worship, or even smiles at church. I can handle hymns but I really struggle with all the happy music that's so popular in American worship these days. I want to shake them and scream, are you worshiping God only because your life is easy? What if God gave you himself and nothing else? Would you still jump and clap if God lead you into a life of devastating loss?
I've been trying to figure out for weeks why I'm so bitter about Christians being happy...or anyone else for that matter. It didn't seem normal to be that angry because people were happy. I realized it's not happy-in-the-moment-happy (like tickling your children) that angers me, it's the whole life-is-happy-philosophy/faith that angers me. It's the philosophy/faith that everything is going to work out if you believe.
And that philosophy/faith is **expletives deleted**.
I finally realized that I'm actually mad at myself. I was once that clapping-happy Christian, totally naive to any long-term hardship, believing that I was strong and faithful, praising Jesus because my hope in God was based on the belief that life would become better. And I realized it was me I wanted to shake, to scream, don't you know where God will lead you? Don't you know that all this happiness can't protect you from devastation? Don't you know your dreams and hopes, even your children, might be taken from you? How can you be so naive?
Happiness has seemed fake to me lately, compared to the real pain in my life.
I now have an understanding that suffering and real pain exists. I can't un-learn that, even if I wanted to. I can't go back to a happy-life-philosophy. And that scared me. Because I can't live in depression and bitterness, but I had no idea how I could be happy and broken at the same time.
And Paddington really helped me today as I sat through the movie, tears streaming down my face. I loved that Paddington never lost hope. Everywhere he went he spread a little goodness, a little happiness. He wasn't clapping-happy, but by seeking out goodness and having hope that goodness could and did exist...he found it. Happiness. The real kind. The kind that exists despite pain and suffering.
And there has been happiness for me lately. Real happiness as people have shown their love for Grace on her birthday with cards, video messages, and donations for her swing set. The cards have come with tear stains and encouragement that have shown me that people have been willing to step into our suffering and not only alleviate it, but to suffer with us. That is the happiness that makes me feel safe, the type of happiness that is real.
Because maybe my issue wasn't happiness...it was hope. Maybe it isn't happiness I need, maybe I need hope that goodness exists, because God is good regardless of pain in this life, and that in turn will lead to real happiness. Maybe I just had it all in the wrong order.
I think that's how I can be broken and happy at the same time. I can be brave enough to look for goodness and light, though the world is evil and dark, and find happiness wherever the light breaks through. And with each small happiness that God allows, and that I am willing to embrace, evil will be conquered and be pushed back into hell where it belongs. Even if only a little darkness dies, it would be worth it.
I am going to try to re-direct my hope, because in Him is life, and that life is the light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
And in that hope, I am willing to risk happiness.