I’m so pleased to welcome guest blogger Amy McGuire to Faith~Driven Fiction, sharing her inspiration about what it means to be happy.
Recently my Ladies Bible Study group decided to do a small devotional on happiness. We were to each bring something that made us happy or could be of encouragement to the other women in the group. Well, anyone who knows me know I don’t go for small, so I made it into my own personal ‘Happiness Project’.
I started to think, when am I happiest and how does this translate into a little devotional for the group? The one thing that stuck out strongest in my mind as the Holy Spirit spoke to me, was peace. I am happiest when I’m at peace. I suppose a lot of us could say that to be peaceful is to be happy.
Peace in this world is not an easy thing to come by sometimes. Often we have to carve out time to be by ourselves, spend time in the Word and just be still. One of my favourite Psalms makes me feel peaceful whenever I read it.
Psalm 23 says, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness, for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me, in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Talk about a peaceful, comforting, happy passage! It seems a little less-so when you read ‘the shadow of death’ but considering that we won’t be afraid and we’re going to live forever with the Lord, that’s pretty happy. The sound of the wind and water make me feel especially peaceful.
In my ‘multi-media presentation’ as my friends jokingly called it, I included a few pictures of the waves crashing on the beach on my last vacation in Florida, as well as one picture of the waves almost completely calm. I included a short video of the waves rolling in and out of the beach, the sun sparkling on them and was reminded that as they don’t change from season to season, neither does God.
As I was researching for my project I was reminded of how, when I’m really stressed, saying to myself, ‘be still my soul’ helps me calm down. The Holy Spirit led me to the old hymn, Be Still My Soul which I read out to the group and want to include here as well.
Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side; Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain; Leave to thy God to order and provide; In every change He faithful will remain. Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end. Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake. To guide the future as He has the past. Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake; All now mysterious shall be bright at last. Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know. His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below. Be still, my soul, though dearest friends depart. And all is darkened in the vale of tears; Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,Who comes to soothe thy sorrows and thy fears. Be still, my soul; thy Jesus can repay. From His own fullness all He takes away. Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on. When we shall be forever with the Lord, When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone, Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored. Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past, All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.”
So basically, no matter what’s going on in our lives, we can be at peace because God’s in control. I need to remind myself of that whenever I feel like life is just getting too overwhelming. When I feel like a bad mother, wife and daughter. When I have a deadline for something and I just can’t motivated to get on it. When my daughter is lying on a hospital bed in the ER with her third febrile seizure in less than a year and it’s Christmas Day. When the bills are high and the funds coming in are low. When my book isn’t doing as well as I’d hoped I would. When the world seems to have it in for me and it just feels like a bad day to get out of bed. The list goes on and on. But through all of this, I can have peace knowing God’s in control.
In my new quest for lasting happiness, not the kind that comes only when things are good, I’ve started reading Joy Every Morning by Muriel Larson. It’s a small book, in something like 4×4 format with only 124 pages but it’s becoming a big element of my morning devotions.
Today was on getting up in the morning, telling God you love Him and then thanking Him for everything you can think of. I tried it this morning and definitely felt more happy and peaceful. Being grateful for what I’ve been given instead of begrudging what I don’t have or wishing my life was a little less stressful is already starting to change my outlook.
I love how the author started out this book. She says, “I am convinced from God’s Word that it is His will for every Christian to be joyful.” Whoa. That single sentence packs a punch and reminds me that I need to find my happiness in Him. He has given me the opportunities to be peaceful and rest in Him and I just need to take advantage of those.
Happiness and peace are definitely interconnected in my life. Gratitude helps kick start the whole thing but God is the author of happiness. I’m so very, very glad He chose me to be His child. Maybe I can help others finding that lasting happiness that I’m just now starting to really get a hold of. After writing this, I’m feeling so peaceful, I think I’ll go take a nap.
Amy lives in Toronto with her husband, their daughter and two cats. The child of missionary parents in East Africa, she grew up with a rich knowledge of the diverse and interesting world around her. She developed a love of English Literature at a young age and considers William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice two of the most romantic books ever written. Since the moment she could pick up a pencil, she has been writing stories for her own enjoyment. It wasn’t until 2009 when she was working on books one through three of The Hope Valley Saga that she considered putting her works out there for people to read and enjoy. Her favourite way to spend a sunny afternoon is on a lounge chair with a good novel, some chocolate and soft tunes off her rather eclectic collection of Cds. The Heart’s Discovery is her first published novel and A Tiny Drop of Sunlight is her first published poetry compilation.
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2012/June at 5:22 am
An absolutely beautiful post, and one that I identify with very much. I’ll never forget when my younger son was just old enough for me to go away on retreat. (He was a needy infant and at 13, can still be, lol.) When it was time to leave, I asked the ladies to pray for me to have patience. One of the older/wiser/experienced-as-a-mom pulled me aside and told me not pray for patience: God would test me. “Pray for peace instead,” she told me. I’ve been doing so since and can tell you honestly I’ve never lacked for my share of happy. Thanks for sharing this, ladies! Have a day blessed with peace.
2012/June at 9:42 pm
GREAT ADVICE! I have my own horror story from a time when I prayed for patience. I like peace and contentment much better!
2012/June at 1:54 pm
Me too. Much more lasting than patience too, if that makes any sense!