When people are struggling, some people will tell them to “choose to be happy.” When I hear that phrase, I feel like it’s a denial of the pain I'm dealing with. I know the people who say that are trying to sound “positive”. They’re trying to cheer me up but, unfortunately, it doesn't work. Some pain can't be cheered up, some kinds of pain drive us to our knees. The thing is, that’s where we need to be. I don’t need to be happy; I need to be focused on God, not my feelings.
We recently lost a close family member. No one told me to “choose to be happy”. No one told me to hide my grief. On the contrary, they let me talk about the loss. I told stories and memories and worked through it. It was understood that this was painful and would take time to heal. They also understood that the way I grieved, the time it took to heal, and the severity varies person to person, circumstance to circumstance. Losing an uncle was painful. Losing my mother would have been devastating.
There is an alternative to choosing happiness: choosing faith. We can trust God through our pain. We can count on him to be by us, wrapping His arms around us. We can let Him guide us through the pain. We can ask Him to heal us and bring our pain to an end. And, if not, He can love us, opening our eyes to the joy that’s still there despite our pain.
Even in our pain there is so much good in the world! My loss isn’t more than my joy and my pain is not more than my faith. Psalm 146:8 says, “The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous.” My faith in God lets me see the work he’s doing in my life and all around me. He opens my eyes to see the people he’s placed in my life to help me heal. He lets me see the strength he’s giving me to get through the darkest times. I’m not choosing happiness; I’m choosing faith.