When Joy Changes Everything

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[dropcap]M[/dropcap]y journey with happiness has been a roller coaster ride. Whenever I was going through a hard time and couldn’t put myself to share a genuine smile, I felt so guilty about it. I punished myself because I believed that it was my duty to show happiness. I am a Christian, I believe in God. He is my source of happiness and joy, therefore I should show it. I should live it – but this was not the case. My view of happiness was so different when I was in my mid-teens to what God has now revealed to me through the truth that I refused to accept in my life, myself and through this truth that was so hard for me to admit I discovered genuine happiness, something that I actually like calling joy.

A couple of years ago I went through a break up. I then felt replaced by someone else. What was wrong with me? What did the other person have that I didn’t? I became insecure, completely lost confidence in who I was and constantly compared myself to everyone. You see, my happiness before came from the affirmation of my boyfriend. It came from the popularity I thought I had because of the many things I could do, my personality, and the stories I could share that made people want to spend time with me. But after my break up I completely lost all of that. I became insecure and lost all happiness and interest in what I once did. For some time I even stopped believing in God, as I blamed him for stealing away all my happiness from me. I became empty.

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For 18 months after my break up, I went on a journey of healing and rediscovering happiness. I found myself in a very difficult place – the unknown. I felt that I had to put myself out there, move on and do all I could to find my happiness again. I did find healing eventually and God started His work in me, but I wanted a shortcut to finding happiness again. I wanted to be 100% the person I was before, the me that was happy and didn’t feel insecure. When I went to social events I observed people’s way of interacting and picked up what people smiled and laughed at. I saw the qualities people liked to see in others and what made them want to spend time with others. I decided to pick up on these qualities. I implemented them into my life and forced them to become ‘me’. 6 months into implementing these qualities I could see results. I started to pick up my confidence, and, I believed, my happiness. I must say that I was so grateful to the Lord for how far He had brought me. But you know what they say, “You can’t pretend forever”.

There were deeper things going on in my life that the outward appearance of being happy could not cover. Inside I was slowly dying, but I just didn’t want to admit the reason for this. It was because I was not happy with who I was. It got to the point that I could no longer keep up with the pretending. After a week of spending time surrounded by friends, I got back home and broke completely. I realised that during most of the time I spent with them, I had been just pretending and it was so obvious I was not being who God had made me to be. I realised that I didn’t want to go through the process of refinement. I was scared to admit that I was not happy with who I was because all I really wanted was to be accepted, loved, and wanted by those around me. I broke into many pieces, but in the midst of my weeping, God opened my eyes to see and discover a happiness that is not just that magical yet temporary feeling, but a happiness that I now know I can keep, and it’s summed in one word: joy.

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I don’t believe in the idea that you randomly open the Bible and wherever your finger lands is what God is trying to say. But, funnily enough, that evening I opened my Bible in the book of Psalms and started to read Psalm 94. It’s quite an intense chapter, but then I got to verse 19:

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“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”

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Your consolation brought me joy. As I was reading this verse and writing some thoughts down, there was a song that started playing called “God, You’re So Good.” This song is what some people would call a ‘baby Christian’ song, a song that ministers only to people who don’t know the Lord. 80% of the song is the same lyrics, “God, You’re So Good”, but the other 20% talks about who we are because of Him: blessed, called, healed, whole, highly favoured, anointed, filled with His power, and it’s all for the glory of Jesus’ name. I cannot describe to you the wave of joy that just swept through all my sadness, through all my fears and insecurities. This didn’t happen that long ago. Since then, I’ve still had my struggles with myself, but the joy of the Lord has been my strength every day.

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You cannot let your happiness depend on the circumstances in your life, the people around you, or even yourself, because while we are in this earth nothing is certain. Most things, if not all, are changing. The only thing that remains constant and true is Our Father, the One who calls you his son/daughter in whom He is well pleased. Once I learned to accept that, I realised that the only one who can give me that genuine smile, the only one from whom my confidence and security comes, the only one that helps me to wake up in the morning and say it’s a good day (even though my circumstances say the opposite) is God.

The way I saw and the way that I now see both myself and my life changed completely. I am still working through things in my life that are hard, but the truth that my fountain of Joy is found in Him, and the reality that He loves me just the way He has made me to be, changes everything.

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