Fighting for Happiness in the Midst of Pain

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I’ve heard it said that happiness is based on what is happening around you. It is an emotion just like sadness, angry, and stress. Happiness can be fleeting if we let it, if we don't take control and fight for it.

Generally, I’m naturally an optimistic person. I see most situations as glass half full, but I’ve also had my fair share of sadness. Over the last 10 years I’ve battled depression for years at a time, both before I was a Christian and after I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. My most recent episode happened about year ago and was my most severe to date. It was in the middle of what seemed like incessant darkness that I decided to make a declaration of how I would fight for joy each and every day of my life. Here are the promises I made to myself:

- I will smile even when it’s hard. When I can’t fake it, I will cry until my eyes run dry. I will no longer keep things bottled up because healing comes through release and surrender.

- I’ll be gentle with myself. I won’t hate myself for my shortcomings and imperfections, or for feeling weak and not being able to snap out of it. God is gentle, patient, compassionate and forgiving towards me, and I will strive to be those things towards myself.

- I won’t let negative thoughts and ideas run wild in my mind. I’ll foster positive thoughts and read inspirational quotes and books to lift me up when I feel alone and have no one else to encourage me. Though I may not believe what I read in that moment, I will continue to feed it to my soul.

- At least once a day I’ll do something that makes me smile. I’ll remember that regardless of my situation I can create my own happy moments, no matter how small. Even if that means going outside and blowing bubbles (which I love to do) or spending a day at the beach. Any effort to fight depression, no matter how small, is ever in vain.

- I won’t give up fighting for life, love, and joy. I’ll cling to God, His word, and His promises. I’ll walk out each day as best as I can. If I’m too weak to walk, I’ll crawl. No matter what I won’t stop. I will pray. I will trust Him with my pain. He alone is able to heal even my deepest scars.

To say life is hard is a vast understatement. Being a Christian doesn’t give you immunity to the pains life brings. It does, however, give us access to the creator of the universe, who knows each one of us by name, and sees all of our thoughts and feelings. If you’re facing a situation that seems hopeless, or pain that is unbearable I encourage you to fight and make your own declaration.

Slowly but surely, living out my declaration has made a difference. I'm not always consistent, and I do have moments of weakness, but don't beat myself up about it (anymore). Instead, I keep going.

Though it may not feel like it God is with you. You have never been or will never be alone. He has a beautiful plan for your life, and will carry you and strengthen you through this.

“Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.”- Hebrews 4:15 (MSG)