I Always Wanted To Be Happy
But it seemed so far away
I always wanted to be happy. But the way I imagined that I was going to be happy was always somewhere off in the future. When this or that happens, then I’ll be happy, I’d think to myself. Joy wasn’t to be found in the present, it was out there—something to be striving toward.
I had plenty of awesome experiences that would make me happy in the moment, but that high would race through me like a sugar rush. I assumed that being in two episodes of a nationally-aired television show would increase my base level of happiness exponentially. Yes, it was an incredible experience, but it didn’t stick.
This led me to believe that I just needed more awesome experiences to keep raising the bar, believing that one day I’d actually reach a place of stasis, where I’d remain in the state of happy I was craving. I couldn’t help but think, maybe it’d a third episode, or a recurring role, or a scene where I have an emotional breakdown (Hello, Emmys!)…The plain truth is, there’s always something more to reach for. And most people I admire for their accomplishments struggle with this same thing. There’s always someone who has more album sales, more red carpets, more DMs being slid into.
My worth as a person was quickly getting tangled up in my achievements and how my life looked to others.
My religious upbringing taught me to be suspect of anything that would bring me joy, because surely it’d be rife with selfishness and ego. That’s when I figured out that if I could go after my joy by helping others, specifically by doing Christian music, then perhaps I could trick the system into offering me joy.
Addicted To Ministry
Unfortunately, that become just another addiction, a rush to chase after. Wherever I was in my career, it wasn’t enough—especially compared to those successful (surely happy!) people over there on the Billboard charts. That’s when the experts chimed in and said “You just need to increase the size of your platform!”—which became another way to determine my level of success. With a large platform, the books I write would find homes with publishers, and opportunities for my music to reach more people would abound. That would be happiness, for sure!
All this “advice” would make my head spin, and discontentment would be the only thing that would abound, as I would try to figure out how to get more likes and followers. Or, to be super duper honest, what I could do to convince God to bless me more.
A Pandemic Offered Respite
The pandemic of 2020 allowed me time to step out of this sick pattern, to see my life from a more objective place. And allow me to cast a vision for something new. A new place to camp out and call home. A place where I can truly know myself as the beloved. It’s a place where my happiness or level of hope will no longer be determined by what happens to me or even around me. My worth and value won’t come from other people or other accomplishments.
This is the deepest part of what it means to me to be a person of faith—to give me a way to live contrary to what seems right to the experts, even the Christian ones. To live believing that I am made unique and wonderful, that I am truly beloved, with zero need to accomplish anything.
The biggest surprise? The burgeoning realization that I no longer have anything to prove to myself, to other people, and even to God. And I no longer have anything to lose. This freedom is the source of a deeper kind of joy than I ever imagined finding.