JOY, NOT HAPPINESS

You know, I used to get so sad over change, wishing happy times would always stay happy. But sometimes my happy times aren’t actually joyful, just a series of shallow happy events that I try to hang on to, piece together and pretend the quilted pieces are making up a good life.

I think God is in the process of taking people away from happiness. More toward joy…even if it takes weeks being miserable, or years, to bring it about.

I’m finding that joy… is a foundation, on which other events and emotions are stacked.  Happiness is sifted on top of everything that’s built, but eventually it blows away or gets lost in memories.  But if someone has joy, it will be there waiting underneath it all.

I’m learning to let go of bad habits, and realizing just how pathetic some of them have been. #1 — reverting to the past to make me feel happy, and safe. (the past is not real anymore…most are romanticized versions of what used to be real.) #2 — trying to make people like me all the time, often at my expense. (if I don’t want to go somewhere, my first concern should not be “what if people get insulted if I say no?” More than likely, these events will all be forgotten shortly, and time will go on, and what matters is my close friends and family. Family…who I hardly ever talk to because I’m so busy doing things I don’t want to do and hanging out with people I’m half-hearted about and events I don’t enjoy. #3 — Having to get a record deal. (…Do I love writing songs? Yes, when I’m inspired. Do I love performing? Sometimes, it’s a love-hate relationship. Do I want to eat, sleep, and breathe music? No! Do artists who have record deals eat, sleep, and breathe music? Yes! So why have I been living for so long like I need to get a record deal?? Because, like living in the past, living in the future is also a romanticized illusion, and I want the record deal as I see it… with snapshot moments that are fun and satisfying, and music already written, and plenty of days in between interviews and concerts and promoting myself.
Is that what people get when they’re signed? No. Are they also able to have the dream with marriage and kids and a normal day-to-day life? –Not without nannies, daycare, rich husbands or hit singles. So is that what I want? No! …If I didn’t get signed, could I have a more normal life, still singing and writing, having my most important dream of getting married and having kids? Yes! (assuming I get married and am blessed with children… ha) …Another dream I hope for, but can’t force to happen.
So yes, this sounds like a huge risk, but I’m not giving up on a record deal… I’m just going to be content as an independent artist, which means I’m doing what I can in the moment and doing what God wants me to do. No more record deal idols on my shelf. So, #4 — Being pessimistic. Being cynical. Blaming God and others instead of just moving on and doing something about whatever situation went wrong, or whatever emotional state I’m in. Maybe, as a Christian, I should follow what Jesus teaches about trying to be truly honest, thinking “lovely thoughts,” not being offended, not being greedy or wanting fame, not pursuing or needing the “love of others,” and not holding on so tightly to things that are of this earth.

I thought a while ago about the question people often get asked in interviews. “What motivates you? What are you passionate about?” I thought about what I was passionate about. Well, I’ve been driven in many different areas of life, whether spiritually, physically, or career-wise, at different times in my life. But two weeks ago when I was wondering this, I couldn’t think of anything.

Then it hit me… 1) making sure people like me. 2) making sure I do just enough good to where God won’t dis-like me.

As I sat on the plane back home, pondering this…I realized just how sad those two answers are. How incredibly sad.

Thoughts came to my mind from scripture. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…” Maybe Jesus’ way would make me truly content (again) if I would maintain living and thinking what he actually says, hungering after a right relationship with him and a positive outlook on life. Because then, no matter what the circumstances, success or failures, that joyful foundation will still be there…and will not be so covered up that I can’t feel it anymore.

“Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight.
We have to kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight.”

-Bruce Cochburn