Once upon a time my mother would occasionally ask me if I was happy, and I would cringe whenever she did.
I would defend my life choices and try to convince her (and even myself) that I was indeed, happy, even though I wasn't really. I lived discontent and frustrated. Mother's just know these things about their children, and try as I might to fake her out, I couldn't.
My mother wanted her daughter to be happy and she was poised to give me whatever advice she could to help me get out of a situation that made me unhappy. Still, I cringed because I wanted her concern to be greater than circumstantial-happiness.
I knew that it is awfully selfish of me to pursue happiness over what's right for my story and quitting a challenging marriage, for example, wasn't something that I thought was right for me.
I craved inner peace, even though I didn't know it back then.
When other people start questioning our lives or even making suggestions, we can tend to get all tripped up and find ourselves defensive, or think the easier way is to go it alone and to shut everyone out. So I tried.
I lived so restless and dissatisfied and pined for control -- for. so. long.
I thought I needed to be better and different. I couldn't accept myself and that bled into not being able to accept others, either. I lived for so many years with a scowl and nasty look plastered to my face. I was angry at the world for doing all the wrong things when I was trying so hard to do the right things.
Anger made me resent living. I tried to do everything and have the attitude I was supposed to have or should have. I was too ashamed for not being where I thought I should be.
I didn't honor or even pursue my heart.
I didn't even try to get to know me.
I was so mean to me.
Whenever people asked me my "favorite" anything, I'd stumble and fumble for a decision, claiming that I didn't have one, because really, I just didn't know. I was more focused on what I should like that I didn't even consider what I liked or wanted in life.
I'd complain about what I saw and judge everyone, yet I wouldn't be able to articulate what I would want, even if I could have anything I wanted.
I didn't accept my story and instead wanted to run away from it. I envied people who went on trips to far away places, yet I didn't stop to think about all that a trip like that would require and whether I would even think it's worth it if I were given the opportunity.
Nowadays I reflect something far different than I did all those years ago. Sure, happiness alludes me a lot of the time, but it's more than that -- it's contentment.
I am content with my life, as it is, and with myself, as I am.
And truly I tell you, this is no small thing.
No matter what happens, I know that I can trust God, even when life looks ugly and feels brutal and the storm clouds begin to whirl and twirl in front of me. I can trust Him because I've seen beauty come out of what seems broken and impossible.
It took a long time for me to realize that we weren't made to go it alone. We weren't made to keep a closed heart. We were made for so much more.
I've discovered that there is purpose in all of life and that it isn't up to me to decide what should happen just based on my own feelings or want or comfort.
There are lives affected and influenced by how my own story unfolds and though sometimes I'd rather be the writer and producer of my own story thankyouverymuch, I know deep inside that so many would miss out on what their own story will become because our lives were interwoven. The same goes with my own life and the importance of the story of others' who I get to know, if even for a moment.
Every single person I meet has happened on and for purpose.
Once I discovered that we are all on-purpose people, I began to truly rest. I began to find contentment with my life without trying to change it or wait for it to be different until I finally decide to embrace it.
Perhaps the most amazing thing that has ever happened in my life so far is this contentment.
God loosed my white-knuckled hands that nearly suffocated everything and everyone. He gently steered my attention to see the perfect ways He created me and my story, and he helped me to simply live instead of stroking-out from such an intensely focused try-hard life, or flat-lining from giving up entirely.
I learned that I am happiest when I am doing what I like. My heart beats louder and stronger when I'm doing what I enjoy. It requires that I sometimes ignore the Facebook feed and ignore all that everyone else is doing; that I sometimes live with blinders on, at least for a little while I'm gaining strength to run my own course.
When I live my life and let my heart pursue it's desires, I live the Me that God created.
I learned that I honor Him by noticing His creation -- the part in the clouds that give way to light, the giggle of a baby, the wag of a dog's tail, the touch of my groom's hand, the smile and nod by a friend that communicates I am understood . . . the flavors and colors and experiences and hobbies that feed my heart.
I learned that it takes courage to trust that when we let others in, we won't lose ourselves. That, no matter what someone says about us, suggests to us, or smirks about in front of us, we can still be our real selves.
God did some profound things to get my attention.
I don't bother so much with theological discussions these days. Or Bible memorization. Or even church attendance. I don't call myself "religious" and actually can't stand to be referred to as that.
I don't concern myself about what people might think of me anymore. Or get all wrecked inside when I get a nasty look or tone from someone. I am letting people be messy, mistake-prone humans. I've chosen to live by faith and not by the attention from others.
I am leaning into grace for me and for all of them.
I am passionate about teaching my son that he matters and that everyone around him does, too. And I can't help but to encourage others to see the beauty in their story, as it is.
I simply and fully choose to trust the very personal God who made me and live a simple and restful life.
When I look past how the world or people think I should be, and instead remember that someone will always disapprove of me and I will always come short in some way, I give myself permission to consider that the messiness doesn't mean I don't matter.
When I give myself permission to simply and fully be, I live as the Warrior who He called me to be.