A Fresh Look At Positivity

A Fresh Look at Positivity

 

In this world, we hear a lot about positivity. We hear people tell us to not let the negativity of others affect our attitudes.

 

That’s a powerful message.

 

People say that we should keep our heads up because ultimately, whatever we want in life, we’re going to have to work for. So if we want to accomplish our goals, we must not let anyone deter us.

 

We must be positive. See the glass half-full.  See the sky as always sunny. And move on from gloom as quick as we possibly can.

 

The positivity message tells us to just keep swimming, because it’s gonna be alright. Don’t worry; be happy. And I do believe happiness is good, but we should have a reason for it.

 

What I want to know is this. In a godless world, how can we be happy? How can we be positive? How can we know that life really will go on? How can we accomplish what we want to when it seems absolutely impossible?

 

Forgive me for being blunt here, but this is where I see that the positivity message cannot hold up.

 

Positivity does not offer lasting hope. But Jesus does.

 

Positivity is a form of self-empowerment: If you think it, you can do it. And that’s not all bad, truly. Sometimes the only thing we need to keep going is faith in ourselves and perseverance because we already have everything we need to do it.

 

Sometimes, when everyone around us is cutting us down with discouragement, we need to be the ones to step up and say, “Hey, look. The end is in sight. We can make it.” Pressing on toward something is valuable.

 

So the question is not, “Should we be positive?” but “How can we be positive?”

 

For me, having a good attitude by just “trying to” is like trying to sing or speak without taking a breath. Pulling the positivity card out of nowhere has no depth to it, no standing, because it becomes just words.

 

But it doesn’t have to be.

 

The missing message of positivity is this: we can have joy in every situation.

 

Philippians 4:12-13

“I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

 

The secret to facing anything is doing them through the strength of Christ. That’s what gives us joy. That’s what lets us go on when things seem impossible. That’s what propels us through the times when we feel like giving up.

 

Not putting on a mask of happiness, but living it.

 

Positivity is something we can only truly grasp when we experience the joy of the Lord.

 

Nehemiah 8:10b

“And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

 

The joy of the Lord. Not the joy of nice things, a good relationship, a happy circumstance, no. This joy is knowing that we are loved. Knowing that His grace is lavished on us. The guaranteed assurance that we are new creations in Christ. Our pasts are not counted against us.

 

And we know this all because we have seen the cross. We have seen who Jesus is in the Bible. We have felt his presence in our lives. We have known His power.

 

And so the simple message of positivity just seems so shallow. “Be happy.” Okay, yes, but why should I be happy?

 

Because we are loved with an everlasting love by our Creator. We are treasured. We are provided for. We are never left on our own. And we are definitely never forsaken or forgotten about.

 

To be truly positive is about so much more than just feeling something – it’s what we can live in as Christians.

 

And that kind of positivity is the best of all.

 

*aj

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When Happiness Isn’t Enough

When Happiness Isn’t Enough

Dear Readers,

 

I want you to know that sometimes, I dream.

 

I dream of a big future, a bright one, a happy one.

 

As I get older, I’m thinking more and more about where and who I’ll be in a few years.

 

I’ll be honest, I want to be an editor. Most of you, if you know me, have probably heard me blabber on about that. I want to edit books, and live in an adorable top floor apartment in New York City, drinking coffee and cranking music at all hours of the day, wearing cute clothes, reading lots of books, and hanging with my good friends on the weekends.

 

While that whole scenario seems highly improbable and dream-like (not the editing part, I’m actually serious about that), there has been an underlying wish there that I’ve had my whole life.

 

Before I completely reveal that, I’d like to take you back to when I was five years old. My cousin and I were always close, and still are to this day. She and I were at our grandparents’ house, and she asked me, “Amanda, what do you want to be when you grow up?” I thought for a moment, and then replied, “I want to be a singer or an actress.”

 

I always hated to sing or speak in front of people, because I was painfully shy and self-conscious, but I still had a dream in my heart that one day, I’d find something to really make me happy, and right then it seemed like acting or singing was the way to go.

 

I love to sing, and I also love to entertain the delusion that I can act. But as I’ve matured, I’ve realized that neither of those is probably the path I’ll wind up taking. I enjoy those things, but I don’t feel a passion for making either of them my life’s calling.

 

However, I do love words, if you hadn’t already noticed. So for me, it seems like editing would be a good career, at least for the next couple years or so.

 

And sometimes, when I think of my mental “wish-list” for the future, I put an asterisk besides everything, saying “as long as it makes me happy, which I’m sure it will.”

 

I think that by having a certain job, a certain sized paycheck, a certain house, certain friends, certain environment, certain material possessions, that then, I’ll be happy.

 

But you know what?

 

Chasing happiness is like pursuing a shadow, or trying to catch the wind. You’re always striving, but never savoring what you have.

 

And while this seems a tad depressing, keep on reading, because I promise that it doesn’t have to be.

 

I told myself when I was young that when I “became a teenager,” that I’d be happy and free and all that jazz. I told myself that when I finally got a job and paycheck, I’d feel contented that I was somewhat independent. I told myself that when I finally started a blog, I’d feel an overwhelming sense of peace and purpose, and feel like I was important, that I was contributing something to the world, that I was valuable. I told myself that when I started dressing with more style and less Aéropostale graphic tees I’d feel more beautiful. I’ve told myself so many things over the years about what new thing would make me happy.

 

And I have news for you.

 

That happiness is so short-lived and shallow, and so easy to move on from as soon as we find “that next thing” to chase after. All those things have happened, and I’m not any happier because of them. Perhaps they’ve added some dimension to my life, but nothing on this earth can fulfill the hole in my heart for something more.

 

But there is One who can.

 

If I didn’t have my faith, I don’t know where I’d be. I don’t know who I’d be.

 

Things don’t make me happy, per se, but I am still a satisfied person, with joy in my life.

 

Philippians 4:11-13

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

 

This is one of the most quoted passages in the Bible. The last verse, at least. In this chapter, Paul tells us that in everything, the key to contentment is facing all things with the strength of Christ.

 

Now strength may not seem to connect with being content or happy, but let’s think about it.

 

This isn’t the strength that athletes claim before a competition. This isn’t “I can win this thing because I’m mentioning Jesus, and then I’ll get this gorgeous trophy showing how amazing my life is.” It’s facing every aspect of life with the mindset that we are never alone in facing trials. It’s knowing that life won’t always be good, but trusting God that He has a plan in all of it.

 

That, my friends, is what brings us to true contentment.

 

We can chase things, but they’re never going to fill us 100%. Or we can choose Jesus, to sustain us, to strengthen us when we succumb to our weaknesses, to hold us together when we fall apart. We can look to His grace when we fail, and mess up, and our lives are in disarray.

 

And that’s satisfying to me.

 

I know that I’m doing right now what He wants me to. I know that I’m letting Him lead my life. I know that I’m imperfect, but He has forgiven me.

 

That is what fulfills me.

 

That is what brings joy to my heart when I’m depressed.

 

That is what gives me meaning, a reason to go on, and inspires me to move forward.

 

I might not ever be rich, or famous, or have really wonderful stuff. And you know what? I’m okay with that.

 

Because life is about so much more than just being happy.

 

*aj

Are We Happy Yet?

Are We Happy Yet 

This is part 3 in my impromptu Christmas series. See the first two parts also, Peace on Earth and Christmas is Love.

 

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

 

Yes, it is wonderful, but where are we basing this wonder on? What makes us so merry? (Abrupt introductions, anyone?)

 

Joy and happiness are hugely discussed when it comes to Christmas. I mean, hello, we try to make ourselves as happy as possible with gifts for ourselves and others, food, by hanging out with family and loved ones, and making Christmas as magical as we possibly can.

 

What’s not to like?

 

Well, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, I honestly don’t. But with all this happiness that we try to attain, there is a high price. This price is us missing out on what Christmas is all about. *Cue ominous music*

 

I will be the first to tell you that gifts and presents are fabulously wonderful. Shredding wrapping paper to find new cool things in the name of a holiday celebration is wondrously great.

 

But have you ever noticed how unhappy we get after Christmas? All this work we’ve put into one day of the year – and it is OVER. DONE. Adios, Pablos. No more Christmas for you.

 

By looking past Jesus to the presents and food and people, we give up lasting, substantial happiness for a cheap knock-off, and we don’t even see it. We tell ourselves that Christmas is supposed to be all about happiness, but as we bend over to pick up the last scraps of tissue paper embedded in the carpet and take the ornaments off of the tree, we think, is this really it?

 

Maybe you’re not as dramatic as I am. But I do know this: We get so caught up in all the hoopla and huzzah of Christmas, that it can end up as a huge letdown on December 26th when it’s all over. So much for happiness.

 

See, friends, Christmas does not come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more. – Thank you Dr. Seuss, for that lovely quote from How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It’s very true.

 

You can’t buy enough happy to make Christmas a good one. Really, you can’t. When I was younger, Mom took me to the beach and gave me some shovels and let me dig. Dig and dig and dig I did.

 

Me: If I kept digging down far enough, where will I end up?

Mom: Probably in China.

Me: *digs for a while* Am I at China yet?

Mom: I don’t think quite yet. The world’s pretty big, you know.

Me: Do I see a light down there? Is it China?

Mom: Honey, I think you’re seeing a reflection of the sun. But keep on digging. You might actually get there.

Me: Okay. *amuses myself with digging for hours*

 

You can imagine how the rest of that went. Needless to say, I never did find China, but I learned an important lesson.

 

You can attempt to dig through an impossible situation, or you can find the existing way. If I really wanted to go to China, I should have taken a plane, not a shovel.

 

Now here is the hopefully-sane translation of my wacky little story.

 

Every Christmas, most of us dig around looking for happiness, myself included. If we just go to enough parties…just get enough presents…just spend enough time with others…just make enough yummy foods…just do this or that…THEN and ONLY THEN will we be actually, truly happy. The sad thing is, that year after year of doing this, and becoming discontent, we still tell ourselves that it’ll make us happy.

 

And so the cycle repeats. And we become insatiable. But this shouldn’t be so.

 

We say Christmas is a time for happiness, and we are absolutely right. We can be happy, just like we can go to China. But we get there a different way, instead.

 

If we want happiness, we have to accept the real meaning of Christmas. Why do we even celebrate it in the first place?

 

We celebrate Christmas because of the birth of the Messiah. Jesus. But not simply the fact that he was born, but because of what that signified. It signified that 1) the GOD of all things EVER came to us in human form because He LOVES us, 2) we are not forgotten and forsaken even though deep down, we do the wrong things CONSTANTLY, and 3) the satisfaction and happiness we all search for has been FULFILLED. He came to give us a new nature, to put off our sin and make us bright and shiny.

 

What do we all yearn for? Meaning in life. Happiness. Contentment. Or society has contradicted this by giving everyone a big case of Holiday Discontentment. However, we do not have to keep it this way.

 

By looking at the birth of Jesus for what it truly is, and not just something to put on the mantle, we can find that satisfaction. By accepting His amazing love and sacrifice for us, in that will we find happiness. If you want to read more about this (and why I refer to this lasting happiness as ‘joy’) then check out this post.

 

By seeing the significance of who Jesus is – God in flesh, who dwelt among us – we can really and truly be happy.

 

And now, a passage to close with.

 

Philippians 2:5-10

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

 

Have a wonderful day, friends. Merry Christmas once again.

 

*aj

Searching For Significance? I Found It.

Searching For Significance? I Found It.

Significance.

The meaning of life. What is it?

The question we’ve all been asking since we came to the realization of what life is.

We are born, we live, we die. And in those moments in between, during the moments that we live and move and breathe, we get glimpses of joy and peace, and sorrow and tragedy. And we think to ourselves, Is this really what life’s all about?

The feelings? The pleasure? The darkness, the light?

The dreams, or reality?

These are the questions we ask ourselves.

What is morality? Truth? Is it even real?

My friends, I want to share some things with you. Things that I know we all have questioned, and things that have real answers.

We all search for significance.

No matter who we are, we all want to make our imprint in the world. A lot of us want to be famous, or loved, or rich, or successful. In essence, we want to be happy.

That’s why so many people cling to the line, “follow your dreams,” even if their dreams lead them down the wrong path.

“Follow your heart” becomes the replacement for true significance, because that’s what people think will lead them to be fulfilled.

If life ends once we die…and we only live once…then it stands to reason that we should enjoy life while it lasts, right?

Well, yes and no.

The thing is, when we pursue significance by chasing fleeting happiness, we discard the idea that what happens after we die matters. We adopt the lie that says that the here and now is what’s of utmost importance.

As a Christian, I cannot accept that.

Humans are eternal beings created by an eternal God. (More on this in a minute.)

We were all born with a craving. A craving for love, for meaning, and for hope.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that we live in a broken world.

But it does take Someone as powerful as God to fix it.

Don’t ask me why God created this world when He knew that we’d rebel against Him and mar it. Because I don’t know.

But what I do know is that His love is more powerful than our sin.

And the search for significance? We search because without God, things do not make any sense.

 

Why would things spring into existence? Let’s just say that if things could spring into existence, they’d be like cloned blobs of matter.

Why would God create a place that would doom itself to destruction?

Because He had a plan all along.

His plan was to save us, and in doing so, He showed us love.

Love is where we find our significance.

 

But not in some human relationship.

 

The only significance and meaning we will ever find is in a relationship with God, which we can now have.

 

We can know love by the grace of God and blood of Jesus.

 

I said earlier that we are eternal beings. Death is not the end; it is the gate. The gate to all eternity is opened at death, and it’s decided by what happens in our lives.

The gate to heaven is only opened by believing on Jesus to forgive our sins on this earth in order to be right with God. And the crazy cool thing is this:

What satisfies us on this earth — a relationship with God — is what grants us salvation and entrance into heaven.

 

There needn’t be any more search for significance. It’s finished.

And there is a beautiful solution.

Love has come to us. Love has won us over. And love will lead us to our eternal home.

*aj

Why Joy Satisfies Me (More Than Anything Else)

Why Joy Satisfies Me (More Than Anything Else)

In my very first post, waaaayyyyy back on February 17, 2015, I talked about happiness vs. joy. I was a little baby blogling, testing out my writing voice in a little corner of the blogosphere, and didn’t quite know what I was doing. (It’s not my favorite post.) But I decided that the points in there were still important, regardless of the quality of writing.

I’ve been thinking about names recently. I’m Amanda Joy Beguerie. When I was six, I decided that I was going to change my name to Clara when I turned eighteen (and for the record, Clara just so happens to be the name of my book character twin). In addition, I always thought that Joy was a somewhat boring middle name, because it’s a word name (e.g. Grace, Faith, Patience, etc.).

Two nights ago, in Bible study, we talked about joy. We’re studying the book of Philippians, which is all about rejoicing.

I thought about my middle name and realized something.

My middle name is constant. I’m not Amanda [always changing emotion name], I’m Amanda Joy. Joy doesn’t leave, because joy is constant. I can’t get rid of my middle name, it’s just there. No matter how I feel, or what I do, it doesn’t change.

(This is how I think, okay?)

In Bible study, we talked about rejoicing in the Lord.

Because God doesn’t change, our joy needn’t change. Because things like grace and salvation do not change, we can rejoice in them.

Sure, I’m happy if I get a lot of likes and comments on a blog post. I’m happy if I buy something I really like. I’m happy to get my paycheck. I’m happy when people give me books and Amazon gift cards and clothes and free food. These things make me actually, legitimately happy. I won’t minimize that.

But those things aren’t constant things. They don’t last forever.

However, beautiful things like grace, and salvation, and God’s everlasting love are things that we can constantly rejoice in.

I’ve never struggled with depression, but I have been emotionally depressed from time to time. I think that most of us have, really. In those times, I cannot shake the feeling from myself because what happens is I forget my joy.

It’s easy to let myself become happy because of an earthly thing and then later, let myself be disappointed when that thing doesn’t last.

Joy is something that we will find in God alone. We will find joy in our salvation given us by the grace and love of God.

When we succumb to lies that tell us that our ‘joy’ should come from things, we deceive ourselves. This is where our joy should stem from.

Romans 5:8

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

I know, I know. We’ve heard that verse a thousand times. BUT LISTEN TO WHAT IT IS SAYING.

When we had no hope, God provided us with hope. This hope is assurance that no matter what we have done or will ever do, God has forgiven us.

Philippians 4:4

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.”

God has done what no one else could do, and He forgave us when we were unforgivable.

We are new in Christ, and our sin is not held against us.

Psalm 16:11

“You make known to me the path of life;

in your presence there is fullness of joy;

at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Joy isn’t a fleeting emotion. It’s a choice to live in gratitude to the one who saved our souls.

It’s a mindset that will give us constant satisfaction.

*aj

Fighting Selfishness

Distant Mountains

Life is beautiful…

…most of the time.

Anybody feel me?

My life gets so messy sometimes, and it’s sickening how self-absorbed everyone in this world is.

And, you know, how selfish people can be by nature. Myself included. I’m trying my best to work on that.

There’s this song in The Lorax (the newer movie) that is perfect and sick at the same time when it comes to the human sin nature.

Here’s the first part of it.

How ba-a-a-ad can I be? I’m just doing what comes naturally.

How ba-a-a-ad can I be? I’m just following my destiny.

How ba-a-a-ad can I be? I’m just doing what comes naturally.

How ba-a-a-ad can I be? How bad can I possibly be?

Well there’s a principle of nature (principle of nature)

That almost every creature knows.

Called survival of the fittest (survival of the fittest)

And check it this is how it goes.

The animal that eats gotta scratch and fight and claw and bite and punch.

And the animal that doesn’t, well the animal that doesn’t winds up someone else’s lu-lu-lu-lu-lunch (munch, munch, munch, munch, munch)

I’m just sayin’.

 

*sputters*

Even though this movie does not support that point of view, it makes me want to get up and scream, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!”

Because whether it seems like it or not, the world acts like this by nature.

“Survival of the fittest” is an excuse to go first, take the “bigger piece,” and all that.

It’s just a dumb excuse to feed into entitlement. The deadliest form of selfishness, and I’m pretty sure we all fight it.

Because it’s no secret or surprise that we all have a raging sin nature inside of us, wanting to control us. I mean seriously, if we were “all set,” then Jesus would not have had to come and die for us.

So, do you want to know how to beat selfishness?

Me too, so let’s look at the Bible.

Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 5:24

And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Philippians 2:3-11

 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Romans 12:1-2

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

So…what do these mean, though? And how do they apply to us?

Glad y’asked.

The most IMPORTANT thing that we could possibly do is die to ourselves.

Just because we’re “saved” doesn’t mean we’re growing. It’s an ongoing process of dying to self and living for Christ.

For me, this means giving up my personal wishes. For example, maybe I’m tired, but I still need to serve my family. It’s constantly putting my selfish wishes to go take a nap or read a book behind me and saying, “It’s not all about me. It’s about living for God.”

And honestly, that is soooo much more rewarding than vegging out on the couch being unproductive. Knowing that I’m serving my Creator makes me happier than I would be if I were just binge-watching Netflix and letting my family pull my weight.

Another thing is that we consider others better than ourselves.

Can you imagine if we all did this? If we all treated each other with love, kindness, and respect? Those things are contagious, you know, and it’s so amazing to serve others. It brings me such joy, even when I don’t “feel” like being selfless. My attitude changes if I let it.

And lastly, living like the world isn’t worth it.

It’s really not worth it to live a life rooted in sin and selfishness. Because when we follow after God and do not conform to the world, we are transformed, we see the will of God, and we grow to be more like Him.

In the grand scheme of time and space in all eternity, it’s important to cultivate the things that’ll last: our souls.

Because life can be beautiful, if we let it be.

We can let the world be brighter by being selfless and living for God joyfully, or we can dwell on the shallow things that make us self-absorbed and lead us to be ungrateful vegetables.

Take your pick.

*aj

I’m Fighting

Typewriter

It’s Monday night.

I’m tired. I don’t really want to write a blog post.

I cooked, cleaned, washed dishes, did tons of laundry, watched my brother, and attempted to write an essay for a scholarship contest.

I’ve had a long day, and I don’t feel like writing.

I’d honestly rather chill out in my bed, with a book that hasn’t been written yet. (Favorite authors, keep writing for me. I can’t stand waiting.)

I want to give into my introverted self and hole away in my room, read for ten hours straight, and magically receive a bunch of emails and texts from people I miss without being the first to send the message. I want to sulk for a million hours, and give up on life. I don’t have the experience. I don’t always have motivation. I’m so done with school. And I just want to be selfish and make life about me. Right now, I want life to do what I want, what I think is best for me, and whatever my snobby little emotions want.

And, though I think it would be nice, I’m not giving in because it’s not going to fix me.

And it’s a good thing, too, because when I give in to self-pity, not only is it pitiful, but it is even more discouraging. Hello world, I’m human too. More than I’d like to admit.

So I keep on fighting. Fighting to get my joy back. Fighting to be strengthened. Fighting to find truth amidst the lies. Fighting to regain hope in hard times. Fighting to remember where true love comes from. Fighting to remember God has a plan. And life isn’t about me, so I shouldn’t try to make it seem like it is.

Believe it or not, fighting is hard. Because the not-so-smart human nature in the back of my head says, “Go do pointless things for hours on end. Life is all about you. Go sulk. Go ignore everything. You’ll be happy.”

But will that make me “better?” No, it won’t. I know it won’t. I know that giving into that selfishness will not make me happy because I’ve tried.

Trust me, writing three blog posts a week is tiring. It is really hard. It is hard, because I can barely keep up with school, reading books, and writing, and then having time after that to do what I want. But do you know why I keep up?

I keep up because God has called me to write. God has not called me to wade waist-deep in self-pity, waste time, and sulk. God has called me, an introvert, to use my voice. Right now, I can’t get up in front of 10,000 people and share my life story. Maybe that will come at some point, I don’t know. What I do know, is that my voice right now is being expressed online, writing three times a week, for Him. And whether I like it or not (though I do like it), this is my platform that He has called me to share on. Even if I were to only have had five followers, if God had given me the opportunity to share Him with the world, I would still write.

So I won’t let my selfish sin nature get in the way of sharing the Gospel with twenty-two countries. (Yeah!)

I want to encourage all of you today, to keep on doing what God has given you the opportunity to do and has called you to. Living for God isn’t our obligation (although it’s the wisest thing and He wants us to). Living for God is our joy!

As I write this, my mood is brightening. (I’m not kidding.) Do you know why? Because my satisfaction is found in living for God, not living for myself. I am satisfied and filled up in living a life that is pleasing to God, because deep down, that is what my heart craves. My heart “wants” to be happy, but it can only be truly satisfied by a life abiding in Christ.

So this is why I write.

I do not write for money. (I have to pay to write, actually.) I do not write because it saves me time. (It takes me a lot of time.) I do not write because it makes me famous. (Probably, I’m the least famous out of everyone I know.) I do not write because it looks good on my résumé. (I don’t even have a résumé. I’m fifteen years old.)

I write, because this is the life God has given me. This is what He is calling me to, even though it’s small. This is growing my own faith. This helps me remember that life isn’t all about me. This helps me remember the joy that comes from a life with Christ. By writing even when I don’t feel like it, my own heart is encouraged because I know that this is what abiding in Christ feels like. I am getting to know Him more and more, day by day, and I am satisfied because living my life this way isn’t about me.

I’m glad that life isn’t about me.

I have laid my heart to rest in the satisfaction of Christ. I am pressing on toward the goal. I am fighting, and I am not letting my sinful nature win.

Because if I were to let my sin nature win, I would never taste satisfaction in those shallow, earthly pleasures.

My heart has been won over, and I am living a life dedicated to Christ.

*aj

Should We Really Choose Happiness?

 

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Who doesn’t love the feeling of being happy? I sure do. But the truth is, nobody is happy all the time. It’s impossible.

I like to think of it like sucking helium out of a balloon. You suck in the helium and your voice sounds awesome for like, a very short amount of time. And then it goes back to normal.
Just like being happy. Except being happy is worse.
Something “amazing” happens and we’re on top of the world, floating on clouds, in a fragile happiness bubble. And then something happens and we’re more depressed than we were before. The bubble pops, gravity does its thing, and we are on the cold hard ground, contemplating the meaning of life all over again. Or something like that.

We can’t maintain happiness, because it is an emotion. And you can’t maintain an emotion for very long. Because being happy is conditional. For example, getting a new item, making good grades, being in a great relationship can make you happy…but once the newness wears off, or the thing you were hoping for doesn’t happen, you’re “unhappy” and this goes on and on for your entire life.

But I’ve got some good news.

You can’t always be happy, but you can have JOY. I’m not just saying this because it’s my middle name. Because we can all have true joy in our lives. How? Well let me tell you.

Where does joy come from? A thriving relationship with the savior of your soul. Honestly, which do you think sounds better?

1) A free ticket to the concert or amusement park of your choice for a day. Super cool, right? I love when I get free tickets!

2) A free ticket to heaven, for eternity, with no lines to wait in, all access to the Creator of the Universe, in pure paradise, better than the Bahamas! As a bonus, you get 24/7 prayer access, love and grace from your savior, forgiveness of sin, and unconditional love.
Whoa. That is seriously wicked awesome! (If you’re not familiar with the word “wicked” being a positive adjective, it means like super-super-super-super-wow-awesome. It’s a New England thing.)

Free concert tickets is really fun. But it can only make you happy. Once the day is over, it’s back to normal.
BUT! Jesus in your life is -truly- fulfilling. No, your problems don’t melt away. But the God of Angel Armies is on our side. No, life won’t be easy and pain-free. But Jesus is right beside us, and he understands. You have to choose joy though, because obviously it won’t come naturally. But remembering the significance of God in our lives sure helps.

If we can understand how much God loves us, enough to give up his one and only perfect son to die for our sins, doesn’t that give us joy? If we realize how great our sinfulness is and how deep the grace of God is, isn’t that fulfilling? God never had to create us; he knew all along we would rebel. And he knew he would send his son to die. But he did anyway. His love is extravagant! He’ll never ever stop loving us.

So think about this: happiness is an emotion. It’s good, but never good enough. Joy is a choice and a realization. It comes from a relationship with your savior. Which will you choose today?

 

*aj