let me tell you something i wish i was told. or maybe i was, and didn't believe it. i wish i believed it then, but i do now: you are allowed to be happy. you are allowed to be happy because happiness is not something that ever needs to be permitted to you. you can be happy because life is good. it's beautiful. and some days, it really does feel perfect.
take today. today i hung out with my best friend ariana at a black-owned coffee shop in maplewood. c. oliver, to be exact. (ten outta ten recommend!!) today, july seventh, was an economic blackout. money is all that gets people's attention a lot of the time, so today was a day to not shop at any big corporations, and only shop local and black-owned shops. arie and i had some good coffee, 50 Wendy's spicy nugs, our signature self-timer photo shoot, and of course great conversation. it was a good day.
but sometimes good days aren't always good days, and by that i mean sometimes i feel guilty for feeling good. there's a lotta junk going on in the world, and for me as a black woman, sometimes i can feel guilted for not feeling bad or having a bad day because of it. but here's the thing, with racism specifically for example, if i was obligated to have a bad day every time one of my black brothers or sisters suffered from it, i would never have a good day the rest of my life.
that's not fair. now, i know and have been told that life is not fair my whole life, and buddy let me tell you, life has not held back in proving that statement to be true. now the point i'm making has a companion in the saying, "misery loves company." misery is a specific type of "person." misery doesn't really care about the people around him, he just wants them to care about him. misery wouldn't mind at all if everyone around him suffered from the same things he has, he would love it even, because then he would know everyone could understand and relate to how he was feeling. misery, ultimately, has few genuine friends, if any, because all he wants is people who will help him magnify how unfortunate or difficult his life or situation is. you see the picture i'm painting? chances are we all have a "misery" in our lives.
now let me introduce you to contentment. contentment is the friend that will always cheer you on genuinely and wholeheartedly when you're winning, even if that means you're beating her. contentment is more than happy to be the one in the background just so she can watch her friends and family shine. contentment has struggles, and she's honest about them, but she doesn't force other people to wallow in her mud puddles with her. she is grateful for the people who are willing to get messy to help her, but she doesn't splash mud on them to force them to do so. she doesn't get jealous when other people are doing better than she is, she is able to celebrate everyone from a place of genuine joy and excitement. she is content with where she is in life, and doesn't let misery and jealousy creep their way into her heart.
i am learning to be content. sometimes i struggle with feeling guilty when i am doing "better" than others, or i'm further along than them, or i'm not struggling with the same things they are, but i will not let that feeling the enemy tries to force on me cause me to forfeit the blessings that God has given me. i have struggled with a lot of things, many of which i will probably cover in this blog, like depression, loneliness, being black in america, feeling like an outsider, stress, worry, and suicidal thoughts, just to name a few. i would wish none of these on anyone, as misery would like for me to do. but in the same way, i will also not allow others to bully me into thinking that not taking on their struggles is selfish, or inconsiderate, or uncaring. it's not. its self-care. self-care is not selfish, it's being intentional to make sure i stay healthy emotionally, physically, and spiritually. i refuse to take on others' problems because let's be real, i have more than enough crap as it is!!! if that struggle was meant to be a part of my story and testimony, honey, it'd be in there. and the same goes for you.
you don't have to take on anything that isn't yours. while the Lord doesn't orchestrate any evil because His essence is that of pure goodness, He so beautifully and intentionally weaves everything you struggle with, every attack and stumbling block of the enemy, into your story. He lays out for you all the ways and opportunities you have to grow through everything you go through. so trust the process. genesis 50:20a in the nlt says this, "you intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good." God is able to turn anything, regardless of how big and bad you think it is, into something so good and so beautiful, and your story will change lives, your story can change the world.
how can we be sure of this? well, if you love the Lord, you have this beautiful assurance: "and we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them." -romans 8:28 nlt.
my loves, if you love Him, it's all gonna work out according to His perfectly intentional plan. so, are you able to trust that He's going to work everything out for you? are you allowed to say no to the things the enemy, people, and the world try to burden you with? do you have permission to be happy, to live in joy despite your situation and circumstances yes, permission granted.