Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Permission to be Happy


"...we count them happy which endure. You have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen ... that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy" ... James 5:11

One of the amazing things which changed my life? Giving myself permission to be happy.

For too many years I only allowed myself to be happy if I'd been "a good girl":

If I'd cleaned my house.
If I'd been a sweet wife, a great mother, a good friend.
If I hadn't watched too much tv.
If I'd read enough of the Bible for the day.
Or if the front page news wasn't too disastrous, the weather was nice and I felt well.

Basically, if all those tiny gold stars were shining proudly on the big To Do Chart inside my head--and if the world was running smoothly-- then I could allow myself to be happy.

As you can guess, I wasn't happy a whole lot.

But now I've found a better way. I consciously give myself permission to be happy each day, each imperfect day, because God is good--not because I am good. Not because other people are. Not because the weather is.

You see, God is always good.

Something happens when you base how you feel upon what God does and not upon what you do. You start to feel free. And in your freedom, you stop bashing yourself over the head when you make mistakes. People who beat themselves do not travel very far bruised, wounded. People in self-imposed pits of condemnation do not condemn themselves into acting better the next time--God's grace makes us better.

In your freedom, you stop punishing yourself for days--losing whole weeks when you could have blessed people who needed your help.

In your freedom, you crawl back up on the horse right after you've fallen. You let God brush you off and whisper encouragement in your ear right before you gallop back into the journey. In your freedom, there is happiness while riding on the way to where you are going--not just when you reach the goal. And God becomes your biggest fan--not the harsh critic you once thought He was.

Today I am giving myself permission to be happy. Tomorrow I will, too. And that happiness will help me endure anything along the journey's road.

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