Have you ever met one of those rare people who just exudes peace and joy? The ones who have gone through real, hard times, yet every bit of their attitude is positive (and not that fake kind of positive that’s sicky sweet, but the genuine kind that leaves you thinking, “Wow. I wanted to be a blessing to them and instead they were a blessing to me.”)?
Teri is just such a person. We met through our sons and although we have not gotten to know each other well yet, every time I’ve interacted with her I’ve walked away thinking about what an amazing woman she is.
On Friday she posted the following on her Facebook page and has graciously allowed me to share it here.
The Hologram of Happiness
Today I’m not happy. In fact, I haven’t been happy for the past 11 months. In place of feeling happiness, I have felt sadness, sorrow, grief and great pain. But, that is quite alright with me because happiness isn’t real. It is a mere hologram of the real thing.
We work feverishly to grasp that hologram through bigger houses, more cars, better toys, career achievements, beauty regimens, perfect health, and looking for love in all the wrong places. We try to hold on to it through attaining shallow accolades, retail therapy, and self worth through our children’s accomplishments. We are always looking around the corner for the next thing that will fill that void. We tell ourselves…..if only this just happened…… or I had just had that……..or if we paid off this….. or I had married him… or if I just lost weight……. then I would be happy. We are so consumed with these things that we are blinded. We can’t see through the hologram to realize it isn’t real, it isn’t actually there, it is not attainable…. it is a lie. Yes, happiness is a lie.
So, what is real, you ask? What is the real thing? The real thing cannot be attained by any of these goals and cannot be affected by any of them either. The real thing resides within. It cannot be filled up, but wells up from your soul. It is not something you can try to accomplish or acquire through hard work. It is a gift. It is free. The real thing can only come from God. The real thing is joy.
I know, because I am enveloped, consumed, gleefully bathed in it. I know, because, through this cancer battle this year, I lost many of those things that are supposed to produce happiness. By December, I will have had 3 major life altering surgeries, 3 minor surgeries, 5 months of intensive chemotherapy, and 3 months of daily radiation. I have accumulated medical debt beyond comprehension. I have been in such pain and so exhausted at times that I was almost tempted to tell God that I tap out. I have had every reason to be discouraged, angry, and downright depressed. But I’m not. I know because there is something that has welled up inside of me that is so much greater than happiness could ever hope to fulfill. I know because I have joy.
When I didn’t know if I was going to live…..I wasn’t happy, but I still had joy. When I was in pain so great that I could hardly breath or move……I wasn’t happy, but I still had joy. When I look in the mirror at the bald, maimed figure looking back at me…..I surely am not happy, but amazingly have joy. When they would pump those toxic chemicals through my veins and I knew all the potential side effects….I was not happy, but had joy. When I think about the fact that there is a chance this will come back and take my life…..I am saddened, but still have joy.
Joy is contentedness in all circumstance. Joy does not rely on the opinion of others. You cannot make joy “happen”. Joy cannot be shaken or moved. Joy is the real thing!!
I have always had joy since knowing Jesus and tried to be joyful. But, I have never truly known what real, deep, unmovable joy is until this year. When, by the worlds standards, life should have stunk, I was filled to the brim with contentedness. When, by the world’s standards, I should have felt ugly, I saw a beauty in myself I never realized was there. When, by the worlds standards, I had great reason to worry, I had overwhelming, supernatural peace.
How did I get this joy? Is it attainable or just a mere hologram? It is simple. God offered and I accepted. He promised to take my burden and replace it with peace…and He did. He promised to be there when I needed Him most…. and He was. He said he would fill that void with joy in the midst of great trial…..it was there.
Don’t be fooled. The things of this earth that you are working so hard to attain will not fill you. The emptiness will still continue to be there no matter how fit you are, how much money you have, what accomplishments you’ve made, and how hard you work to appear to have it all together. You can have real, tangible, immovable joy if you would just let go of the hologram.
“The LORD is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him. “ Psalm 28:7
In His Joy,