Permission to be Happy

Riding an ant at the “Happiest Place on Earth”

Several months ago, near to the time that Jana died, my pastor imparted a bit of wisdom. He told me to allow myself to feel happy. I could understand what he said, but, lately, I am wrestling with the concept.

Early on, I had no desire or capacity for feeling happy. Nothing reached past my darkness to elicit that sort of feeling. Each day was bad…not just mostly bad, it was bad. Of course, as the intentional processing of grief wore on, there were lighter moments in life.

Sitting here, now, I cannot say when I first felt “happy.” Maybe it was the time, a month ago, when I harvested the largest deer of my life (maybe my entire life!). Maybe it was being invited to social activities, and enjoying new relationships. And, maybe it was just spending some genuinely happy time with my daughters. In any case, I am occasionally feeling very positive and joyful.

So, I circle back to my words of wisdom… With each “happy” feeling, there trails the thought, “how can you enjoy anything? Jana has died!” Ugh! This thought wrings at my heart! It seems that my heart wants to make its presence and pain known, especially when the rest of me allows the joys of life to creep back in.

I must allow myself to experience the joy. Give myself permission. Agree with the pain, but welcome the happiness. I have always been one to find life a joyous thing. It is not in my nature to live as the grief has forced me to live.

Grief has brought about many new thoughts, emotions, and relationships. These qualities of life, alone, I can be thankful for. I am not happy in the manner in which these new facets of life have come about, but I do find joy in how God has worked through this time of sorrow thus far. Each day I am graced with the strength to continue growing and becoming the man God has planned for me to be…and, for that, I am happy.

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