I have a lot to be excited about right now. I’m engaged to my best friend. I’m graduating from college in two weeks. I have job prospects. My family is the best. I know Jesus, and he loves me despite my shortcomings. Life should be pretty great, right?

I had a realization recently that I think is fairly important. My fiance often trickily asks me “are you happy?” to judge if I’m really ok. At times, I am. I respond quickly, assuring him that I am, indeed, fine (it’s often just a headache). There are times, though, where I shy away from the question. I don’t want to lie, but I also don’t want to admit that I’m not great. He will ask me to look him in the eyes and tell him what’s up.

Recently I was asked this question when I was visibly not in the best mood. In the midst of a stressful season of life, we had conversations like these a few times. My guy would remind me of all the good in my life and all the things that excited me about the future. He would remind me that God had a great and perfect plan for us. After reminding me of all these things, he would ask again: “are you happy”? On this day, I said “I can’t be”. He jokingly responded, “Well, I give you permission to be happy”.

It was only after he said this that I realized what was happening. I was keeping myself from happiness. I wasn’t allowing myself to embrace the great things that were happening because of fears and insecurities. I was holding my own self-hatred far above my gifts and opportunities. I weighted my dislike for my appearance as more important than the good things in my life.

Maybe you have these things too. Maybe one thing in your life keeps you from finding happiness. Maybe it’s your financial or relationship status. Maybe you feel you’re not talented. Maybe you don’t feel attractive enough.

It took me a while to realize it, but I was the only reason I wasn’t happy. Being unhappy wasn’t because of my weight or my skin, but because I wasn’t letting myself be happy despite these things. But I’m here to tell you something. It’s ok. You can be happy. 

You can decide whether or not you let your insecurities run your life. It might take time, and it might not be easy, but you don’t have to let your emotions run your life. You can choose happiness even when you aren’t where you want to be. When you still have weight to lose. Before you pay off all of your debt. Before you find your mate for life.

I’m not sure where you are in life, but I want to offer you something even more encouraging. I’ll be the first to admit that my relationship with God isn’t where I want it to be. But I hope you will read on for something even better than choosing your own happiness.

Happiness is good, but it is fleeting. It can come and go, but Jesus Christ does not come and go. He is steady and He is always good. I believe that Jesus gives us gifts which are stronger than happiness; He gives us joy and peace. His joy can withstand difficult situations and it is deeper and more meaningful than worldly happiness. His peace has allowed me to stand strong when it felt the ground was shaking beneath me. He knows you and He knows what you need. He wants for you to find joy in Him and He is waiting for you to ask.

Pray with me. “Lord Jesus, I trust that you have a perfect plan for me. I believe that you are the true source of joy and peace and I ask that you would help me to find those in You alone. Lord, let me remember that emotions are good, but that they should not control my life. Let me focus my thoughts on the things above (Colossians 3:2) and let my beliefs and actions follow. Thank you for the work You are doing. I love you. In Your name I pray, amen.”

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