I don’t typically write when things are going badly. I can write when they are sort of rocky, but my instinct is to shut down my emotions and my pen whenever things get too difficult. But lately, I’m experimenting with staying in the pain and searching for words amidst it.

So…Five Minute Friday’s prompt this week is “happy”:

What words can I find about happiness when this week’s predominant emotion has been grief? Can grief and happiness coexist? Maybe they can in the brief moment after waking before reality dawns. Sunlight, a new day, then…she is gone. Really gone. Yes, still today. And every day I have left on this earth. That hopeful, relieved feeling was just a dream, often a literal dream that everything had turned out differently and somehow her life was spared. Tonight I will sleep and dream and forget again, only to wake and remember and have my breath knocked out of me again.

Is happiness different from joy? Can joy exist in any circumstance? I have heard such ideas, but they fall flat as mere platitudes right now. Both joy and happiness spontaneously rise up from within, and when every day is a heavy, constant sinking, bubbles of joy or happiness are trapped far below the surface.

However, grief does not exclude all positive emotions. Gratitude is certainly much deeper than happiness – it is deliberate not spontaneous. It gives way more to contentment than happiness or joy. Even as I lost a friend two weeks ago, have spent the last six months in a chaotic work environment, and have struggled for 1.5 years with a silent syndrome that has sapped my strength and stolen many days, these past weeks and months have included many things to be thankful for, including recent major progress in the work and health arenas. I SO wanted to write about these good gifts today, but “happy” is such a completely foreign word that I just could not.  I am able to appreciate and receive these as good gifts, while dwelling recently in the emotional land of grief. Is this the meaning of Job’s words?…”The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)


8 thoughts on “happy

  1. This is beautiful, sad but a special part of the road you are walking even though it may seem like a mountain. You are a very strong woman to be able to keep your thoughts positive and I pray that the joy of the Lord will begin to overflow from you and that ‘happy’ will become a part of your everyday life. xx

  2. Visiting from FMF. Sorry for the dark clouds.No one could be happy about those … but our faith tells us there is so much more. Grab the anchor and savor every moment — good, bad and indifferent — you’re given. I’ll be praying for you.

  3. Oh, Katy. My dear friend whom I will likely never meet in this life…you are in my heart.

    For what it is worth, I have a rephrase of Job’s words…wait for it…”Embrace the suck.”

    Life was never meant to be easy, not after free will was introduced into the world, and in working as a shooter in various parts of this world…yeah, it isn’t a good deal for no one, no how.

    But there is joy to be had in the spaces between. A last cigarette enjoyed by a colleague whom we couldn’t carry with us (and who fully knew his fate), the lovely respite of cover in a concrete culvert – the bullets were chewing off the edge but they couldn’t hit us; the joy of a sip of bacteria-laden water, not caring for that moment about the dysentery to come…

    If you hold life close to your heart, Katy, THIS horrible imperfect painful profane life that claimed and glorified Our Lord…then you can find the joy in the small places between the giant hurts.

    And you know what? The joy is an ink-stain of light, that will spread. The harder you hold a hurting world to your heart, the more light will flood your soul.

    And you will find, dear Katy, that Happy is not to be found in either circumstance or hope.

    Happy is the moment in which you live your faith, because each second is a doorway to eternity, through which you can peek to see God’s Face…and through which He can leap, to hold you to His Heart.

    I’m sorry for the length of this comment, dear brave heart…and I hope that somehow it speaks to you.

    In any event, please know that you are, have been, and shall remain in my prayers.

    And I’ll stand you a beer in Heaven. (How could it be Heaven without Guinness?)

    • Andrew, as always, I am touched by your words, perspective, and experience. So much so that I can’t even bumble together a response. “Life was never meant to be easy” is something a dear friend/mentor also told me, and it does help. And “find the joy in the small places between the giant hurts” – profound words. I’m going to have to start a collection of your quotes!

      I do know there is good and blessing woven among the darker threads. And I’m reminded by the Olympics that to glorify someone can mainly involve trying to be where they are and to just get a glimpse of them…which makes the task of glorifying God seem much simpler.

      Sorry, words to express how you have helped are escaping me right now, but thank you, thank you, thank you for every one of the words written above! Praying that the Lord is your strength and trusting that he is giving you moments of happiness in your day today.

  4. (Visiting from FMF) Love your honesty – sometimes writing in the rawness of grief and pain can be truly fruitful. When I went through similar, Sheila Walsh’s ‘God Loves Broken People’ was a lifeline. Be kind to yourself right now – happy would be unrealistic but peace and hope are attainable. May you feel God’s arms wrapped around you x

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