Happiness Looks Like Healing
A couple of weeks after school started, I was walking through the kitchen to drop some laundry in the bin. A streak of sun dashed in the window across my path. My feet came quietly to rest in that lovely patch of light, and I simply stood there a moment. As I took a breath, then another, it occurred to me that I was happy. A deep down, chase a butterfly in the field, dive into the waves, laugh with a child, face to the wind kind of happy. And it caught me off guard.
The summer months blew by in a flurry of camps, travel, college drop-off preparation, and a blur of administrative life duties. It ended with two weeks of Covid then the bustle of taking our son to college and the school year beginning for our other two children. Whew.
Remember those little bath toys in a blister pack? They arrived all tiny, shriveled up, and the size of your fingernail. You put them in the water and slowly, magically the little dinosaur or mermaid puffs out. The raisen-like wad of foam transforms into a technicolor bath toy.
That was me at the end of the summer. A wadded-up version of my normally joyful self. The first week my son was in college, I watched a lot of Netflix, stared out the window, cried, pretended to read books while staring out the window, and wondered how long the productive version of myself was going to be on vacation.
Turns out, my productivity left town on sabbatical and I can be happy without it. Like our garden outside, I am also seasonal. The summer was a season of busy family life and output. Now, that fall is arriving in all the warm tones of hot drinks and fuzzy sweaters, I’m recovering my happiness in a season of rest. Slowly, magically I’m transforming.
I’ve spent years talking and writing about joy. Most of those years were filled with difficulty and suffering, and joy still lived on. Happiness was rarely a topic on my lips in that season because I wouldn’t have recognized it even if it showed up at my door carrying chocolate and singing a show tune.
Now, I’m learning how joy and happiness partner together. In the midst of heartache, joy looks like clinging to Christ for the very breath you need to live and finding Him faithful. On the other side of heartache, happiness looks like learning the steps to a new dance: redecorating a well-used space, discovering graciousness moved into where resentment previously held residence, saying “no” to the hustle to play ping-pong with my son, and learning that sadness and disappointment were a moment in my day, not the event that shook my week.
Happiness looks a lot like healing.
Standing in the dappled light from my kitchen window, I savored the steadfast love of God who held me fast in heartache and dances with me as I heal. Joy remains constant in Christ, but today, happiness bubbles to the surface like a technicolor toy transforming before my eyes.
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