Why Should I Be Thankful When I'm Not Happy?
Sorry for not posting last week, but I was at my much-publicized Vienna Teng concert and didn't have time to write a blog last week. How was the concert, you might or might not ask? It was great, but if you'd like to know or not know more, you can certainly ask me.
Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I thought I'd put in a word or two about that. Now, I'm sure you've heard all the great Thanksgiving platitudes about what people are thankful for. Of course, these things are important, but dark-emo me doesn't really feel that needs to be expressed here. That sentiment has been well-worn. Instead, dark-emo me has the conversation pillow and would like to say something.
So the question is -- why should I be thankful when I'm not happy? By all accounts, this year is a smashing success. For the past fifteen years or so, my church has been searching for a facility, and through a lot of near-misses and false hopes, it was an answer to prayer that back in February, we moved into the current church we now inhabit. And it is ours. After working on and off for more than ten years, I finally finished my first novel, The Rose's Thorn, and that truly seems like a miracle. I'm even 10-2 in my money league for fantasy football. You could call this a banner year for me.
And yet I'm not happy.
Now there's a good chance that I'll never be happy in my lifetime, and I kinda wear it proudly as a badge sometimes. Pain and suffering is what leads to good art. The best writers and artists are the most broken people, and they are able to beautifully express that in their art. I think too much and talk myself out and into too many situations.
Obviously, there are circumstances that drive that unhappiness ... that cause me to miss the forest for the trees. A lot of it, honestly, is my own expectations for my book and the sales. I know what the right answers are: "You can't expect much for the lack of marketing you've put into it." "All of this is going to take time -- Rome wasn't built in a day." These are the things I tell myself, but lately they haven't been very effective in getting the message across. So much of it is my expectations in the Cinderella-style outcome of what would happen when I published my book five months ago and in the response I thought I'd get from my friends. But that disappointment is on me. It's me that has the unfair ideal of what I thought would happen, and I understand that. But it doesn't make it sting less.
Even at the Vienna Teng concert last week, I found myself with a strange feeling I've never felt before. I've always gone to concerts by myself and absolutely love it. You get to have that experience without always having to worry about pleasing someone else you are with or making sure that they are having a good time. You can watch everything as an outside observer. But this time, I thought to myself, "I would be nice to share this moment with someone." Not necessarily a romantic potential someone ... but someone with the same interests as I do. And I don't like that I felt that way.
And romantically? Well, whatever.
So this is what it is. The darkness mixed with the frustration and the helplessness. So how do you be thankful with that lethal concoction running through your mind? How do you obey 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, which tells us to "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances."? I don't promise I have all the answers, but here's what I'm going to try to do.
1. When in doubt, remember who you are. As I mentioned before, we tend to miss the forest for the trees because we are too focused on the small picture when there's a big picture out there. As believers, God's made a promise to us, but so often we fail to remember that promise or mistrust the timing of His plan. I've tried to always comfort myself with the story of Abraham who was promised a son when he was 75 but did not begat Isaac until he was 116. Abraham fully believed God, and yet there was a time that he got antsy and made a mess by agreeing to make an heir with Hagar outside God's timeline. Yet in Hebrews, it's fully credited to him as being faithful. Unfortunately, patience is a virtue fire tested by time, and that's what we need. Patience.
2. Remember what He's done already. Like I mentioned before, this was a banner year full of success, and yet it's so easy to concentrate on the more recent negatives than the further, more bright positives. So many good things have happened, but I'm in the dumps. It ought not to be that way. Our lives and the Bible are full of stories that tell us of God's faithfulness. Don't forget.
3. Pray continually. I know I struggle with this one, especially when it comes to my own requests because of my pride. How often do we ask for God's help? How often are we putting ourselves in dependence on our plan instead of His plan. Praying is supposed to change our attitude, so get to it.
What else is there to say at this point, but Happy Thanksgiving. I'm not happy but working on contentment. But I am thankful. God's done so much for me, and I need to constantly remind myself of that. No blog next week as I'll be away from the Internet, but don't spend too much money on Black Friday.