On the last morning of my trip to the Bahamas, I woke up with a particular Bible verse on my heart. “His mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness.” It was particularly poignant because while journeying through my five days on the island my heart and mind were so full of crap I honestly couldn’t think straight. I mean really, really negative stuff haunted me. Hurtful words others had said. Painful memories. Unforgiveness toward those who’d offended me. Betrayal by someone I trusted. And confusion about it all. In fact, I must’ve packed up these wounds and invited them to join me for those five days because they had been my constant companions and were there with me posted up freely and as comfortable as they could be. So while I was there it was important for me to sift through all of that garbage and figure out a way to let it go.
Somewhere during the week, I began meditating. I found some pretty cool meditation apps and began spending 5-10 minutes a day trying to center my thoughts and discover my truths. And slowly but surely I began peeling back the layers of my pain. So needless to say, I was surprised when almost two weeks later after I’d returned to my normal life the answers began to find me during my quiet time. I’ll admit, I was still sifting through the remains of that garbage I’d been carrying, and though I’d been trying to dump it it wasn’t all gone.
Earlier that day, I watched a great video that challenged its viewers to, “Be brave enough to choose happiness.” Immediately upon hearing this, I felt my heart flutter for a moment. Now for me… that’s always a sign that something has resonated deeply and so I paid full attention to my reaction. And just like that, hours later while lying in bed thinking of nothing in particular the answer to one of my life’s biggest dilemmas found me. “Be brave enough to choose happiness,” I thought. “Hmmmm… Was I running from or to happiness?”, I asked myself. And then there it was. The truth stretched out in front of me so clearly I had no choice but to acknowledge it and invite it in.
I’d been running away from happiness so long , I no longer knew what made me happy. I’d been letting my fear of being hurt again keep me from it. I’d been trying to find happiness through others and was working overtime trying to give happiness to get happiness. I’d been pouring and pouring myself into friends, family, co-workers, employees and my relationship in hopes that in return I’d find it. Instead of honoring myself first by choosing those things that made my soul happy, I consistently chose others.
Surprisingly though, when I started really figuring out what would make me happy instead of feeling grateful for the revelation, I just felt guilty. I felt guilty that my happiness would come at others’ expense. And this made me sad because I realized that choosing myself meant that others might suffer and inevitably be hurt by my choice. And I felt scared because I realized that in order to be truly happy, I’d have to let go of some unhealthy and toxic relationships that were not good for me, not loving toward me and that were flat out unhealthy for me and limiting my growth. I mean who does that? Who lets go of people who love them? At no point, did I consider choosing my happiness an act of bravery.
Now I see that sometimes choosing to be happy is the bravest thing we can do. Living a life that is fully honoring to ourselves while honoring others with our truth is an act of kindness and self love. And yes taking a stand for ourselves requires courage and bravery. And so in that moment I decided to choose myself. I chose my happiness first. And I began the arduous painful process of pruning and purging those people, relationships and situations that were producing pain from my life. And in their place, I began refilling my life with genuine love. Love for myself. Love for others. And an appreciation for love and happiness so rich I hope to never return to the painful pit of that place again. Today, I am choosing to be happy and I’m discovering, for the first time in my life, what it means to be really, really soul sick with happiness. And in choosing to love myself this way, each day I am falling more in love with me and am loving the freedom that comes with getting back to happy.