I had a meet-up in California recently. Meet-ups are really important to me…because most of what I do is online. Doing meet-ups is a fun way to meet women from the UW Community face-to-face. I get to shake your hands and hug you and see your beautiful smiles!
As much as it is fun, it is also heartbreaking.
Meeting up with other wives can be heartbreaking because I see your brokenness and I hear your stories. It is not just a comment left on a social site that gets scrolled past. Your words land on my heart and they stick with me, your voice sticks with me.
Even though it pains me to hear what some of you are enduring, it is good for me to hear, because this is reality. And when I hear what is going on, I can be an advocate to point you and others to truth. At least that is my hope and that is what I always aim to do. I pray my words are always an encouragement, especially in those raw, un-cut moments where you are standing in from of me with tears in your eyes and I have no clue what to say. I pray that Lord uses me to encourage you and give you hope, even if its just for one more day.
I met a woman at the California meet-up and she shared her story with me. She shared the brokenness in her marriage and then she said something that I haven’t been able to shake. I still hear the choppiness in her voice as she said,
My friends keep telling me that I just need to be happy.”
Her friends advice and encouragement was to pursue personal happiness for her and for the sake of her children. Amidst the pain of brokenness and separation in her marriage, her friends made it seem like happiness found will make things better.
I got mad.
I was angry that people still advocate this kind of advice to people who they care about.
This woman I was listening to, I cut her off when she said this. I reminded her that pursuing happiness is a selfish pursuit. I also asked, “What happens if you find happiness?” She would still have an open, gaping wound from the pain of her marriage afflicting her.
What kind of life could you possibly have, living with angst to seek after something that cannot heal you completely?
I boldly told her that she should not seek happiness, rather she should seek holiness. I reminded her that God calls us to holiness and I challenged her to discover what holiness looks like in her life, even with the issues she is enduring in her marriage.
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” – 1 Peter 1:14-16
Holiness leads to satisfaction in the Lord and a joy that surpasses anything else in this life. Our husbands, even if our marriages are problem free, cannot and never will fulfill us the way God can. Our number one pursuit, no matter who we are, or what we are facing, should be a personal and intimate relationship with God.
I think what makes me so mad about this is that if a friend encourages another friend to seek personal happiness amidst a painful situation instead of going to God and letting Him lead the situation, the possibility for sin increases…which means that pain will increase! I wish instead we all affirmed each other to remain faithful wives who are patient and who allow God to be the strength and joy in our lives, regardless of what we are facing.
I remember hearing this type of advice to pursue happiness and it lingered in my heart until I did something about it.
I tried chasing happiness in my marriage once. When things were really bad, and I believed I deserved to be happy. It lead me down a miserable road where I said yes to sin more and caused more harm than good to my marriage.
I wonder what kind of good would have come had words landed on my broken heart that motivated me to be patient and believing in faith that God was with me even at my lowest?
What kind of impact are your words having as they land on the hearts of your friends?
Happiness is fleeting.
My husband and I do not live by a standard of happiness. In every decision we make for our family, it is never about the amount of happiness that will be provided for us or our children. Happiness is an incredible emotion God gave us to experience, just like anger or sadness, to be able to deeply feel the things we are going through. But it is not a standard by which we are suppose to live, or chase after.
We are called to chase after God, to seek peace, to pursue righteousness. Sometimes these things require hard roads to hike up. Sometimes the reward of striving for holiness is unrecognizable. Sometimes we experience more pain before healing comes. But through it all God is glorified and we find true and lasting joy that becomes the strength by which we are compelled to keep living.
Don’t pursue happiness. Pursue holiness.
And please stop listening to your friends who tell you to just be happy or convince you that you for some reason deserve happiness. Let happiness come as a byproduct of doing the right thing, the righteous thing, loving God more than anything else in this world.
And if you are a friend who is giving advice to others to pursue happiness at any cost, please stop to consider the damage that could come from someone taking this advice. They won’t ever be happy until they are healed. If you truly love your friend you will point them toward God and pray for their healing.
And for all of us, let us not judge how good our lives are by a standard of happiness, rather let us judge our lives according to God’s ways and how good our relationship is with Him! Only God can complete us, heal us, and satisfy us the way we desperately desire. Pursue God and you will find abundantly more than just happiness.