Happiness vs. Joy

There are a lot of things that make me happy. Things like puppies and kitties and chunky little babies, reading and running and browsing through antique shops. Things like freshly baked cookies and falling asleep to the sound or rain, watching the Bachelor finale (shallow, I know) and looking up YouTube videos of people falling (mean, I know). But these things only last so long and only make me happy for a short amount of time. We’ll call them temporary pleasures for the sake of this post. And although I enjoy them and they do bring a smile to my face, they don’t compare to the things…

…that bring me joy. Oh the things that bring me joy! I can (and probably will) go on and on and ON about these things. Things like nature and yoga and coffee dates with old friends. Laughing until my stomach hurts (or until I start snorting), late night drives with my momma, or witnessing the miracles of our good good Father. THESE are the things that light my heart on fire, the things that make me think, “I am so happy to be alive.” They’re soul filling, long lasting, and give me not only a short term burst of pleasure, but a long term effect of joy.

I decided to write this post because I feel like our world is confused on what is happiness and what is joy. Happiness and joy are not interchangeable words. You can’t switch them out like you could couch or sofa, dinner or supper, water or H20. They are two completely different things with completely different meanings. And the easiest way to sum it up is something like this:

Happiness: “temporary pleasures”, things that bring you pleasure for a short time, AKA “desires of the flesh/worldly desires” in the Christian world

Joy: things that light your soul on fire, things that MATTER, a sense of peace and fulfillment that never goes away DESPITE your circumstances, “good vibes/good energy” for all you spiritual badasses

Happiness is fleeting. If I see a puppy, I’m happy. If the puppy runs away, I’m sad.

But joy, joy is eternal. Joy comes from our Father. Joy comes from knowing that He is in control regardless of how out of control our life may seem. Joy is an attitude, a decision, something you FEEL deep down in your soul. Joy is being able to see a puppy and feel happy, but still maintaining that state of joy when the puppy runs away.

The things of this world don’t offer that kind of joy. It is only something we can get from the man upstairs. The world tries to convince us that we once we get XYZ (a six pack, a boyfriend, a job), we will be happy. And I’m here to tell you that’s bullshit. Yep, you heard me. The world is lying to you.

Those things will not bring you lasting happiness. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not a bad thing to have goals for yourself and want to find your soulmate or a career you love or buy a house of your own. Those things in and of themselves are not wrong. But relying on those things to make you happy, to make you JOYFUL, to give you a lasting sense of peace and purpose – THAT is where the problem is.

Often times, I find joy in the little things. I find joy when I’m on top of a mountain, marveling at the craftsmanship of our Father. I find joy when little kids laugh (is that not the cutest thing EVER), or when someone I love is smiling and they look so beautiful, or when I feel deeply connected to a song  or a poem or a piece of art. Those are the things you have to seek out, the tiny miracles that add up to a life of joy.

The important thing to remember is that joy is not determined by your current circumstance. It’s not a puppy. You can be in a really crappy situation, but still feel a sense of joy within. I know that’s hard to wrap your head around, especially when life gets tough –  when the thoughts won’t stop or the tears keep falling or the depression is paralyzing, it’s TOUGH. But I can tell you because I have been there that the joy of the Lord is the only thing that has kept me going during those times. The. Only. Thing

“Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” -Nehemiah 8:10

It makes me sad when I think about the world we’re in and how so many people are lost in the temporary pleasures it gives. People do anything they can to fill the void, to try to be happy. They stay out late at clubs and drink themselves to sleep, they self-medicate or smoke or party party party. They’re so desperately seeking for something that will fill them up, something that will make them feel less empty. But those things they’re seeking won’t do that. They’ll only make them feel more depleted. I’m here to tell you that there is one thing, or rather, one person that can bring you the joy you’re so deeply craving. If you find yourself in that situation, Jesus Christ is your man.

Happiness vs joy. Temporary vs eternal. The things that SEEM like they matter vs the things that ACTUALLY matter. Pick and choose wisely, my friends. Pick and choose wisely.

You deserve to have your soul on fire. You deserve to feel a burning in your chest. You deserve a sense of peace and passion and overwhelming joy. Now go seek it.

Hope you guys are having an amaaaaaaazing week! Feel free to comment below if you’d like!




The Power of Being Known

Chances are, you don’t know me. Maybe you read my blog and maybe I like your Instagram pictures, maybe we’re Snapchat friends or occasionally like each other’s tweets. You may think you “know” me but you don’t KNOOOOW me…and there’s a BIG difference.

The other day I was sitting down with someone who has been in my life for about seven years now. I was venting to him about how my Grandma just died and how I’m struggling with recovery and how life has just been really hard lately. I was broken, hopeless, and ultimately in need of some words of encouragement. What he didn’t give me was that, but what he did give me was something I will never EVER forget:

He got real quiet, looked me deep in the eyes, and said “Tatum, I KNOW you.”

And that was that.

I. Know. You.

Three simple words that meant everything to me, that meant more than any advice or encouragement could ever mean. He didn’t tell me that things were going to get better, that life was just testing me, that I needed to keep my chin up. But he did tell me that he knew me, and that was all that mattered.

At our core, we all have a longing to be known – to know others and be known by them without having to put up any walls or put on any masks. It’s a hard thing to be vulnerable, but it’s a beautiful thing. Magic happens when you let someone SEE you, when you let someone in REGARDLESS of how you FEEL or LOOK that day. When you can BE YOURSELF without fearing what someone will say or how they will react. When you let someone see your HEART, you let them SEE you. And when you let someone SEE you, you are KNOWN.

“Watch carefully the magic that occurs when you give a person just enough comfort to be themselves.” –Atticus

I could’ve gone into that conversation with that person guarded, with my walls up, with a smile slapped on my face. But I didn’t. I CHOSE to let him see me in my darkness, my despair, my hopelessness. I let him watch as the tears fell down my face. I let him see the pain in my eyes. I allowed him to see WHO I was, AS I was, that day. And every day is different. He has seen me on top of the world and under the world, he has seen me laugh without a care and cry without a cause. He has seen me in my highest of highs and lowest of lows and BECAUSE he has been there through all of that, he KNOWS me. He knows my heart, my intentions, the core of who I am. And knowing that he knows me is one of the most special, treasured feelings I have ever had.

Who knows you? Truly, honestly KNOWS you? Who have you let in? Who do you NEED to let in? For a long time, I wrestled with these questions and was heartbroken when I finally realized the answer: not enough people. I had let my family in, but that was pretty much it. And let me tell ya, it was a lonely way to live. I wondered why didn’t have strong friendships, why I didn’t let others get close to me, what was WRONG with me. One day, the answer hit me like a ton of bricks: INSECURITY. Yep, I was insecure to a point where it paralyzed me. I didn’t like me, so how could others possibly like me? I wouldn’t dare let them in because I was terrified of them seeing who I truly was. And that’s when the work began.

The work of truly figuring out who I was, what I believed in, what my values were. It may sound funny, but it took me a long time to get to know myself again. For so long I had hid behind walls of shame and doubt and insecurity; I had hid behind my eating disorder, my cheer uniform, ANYTHING that could protect people from knowing the real me. I felt like people liked me, but they didn’t know me. I had “friends,” but I didn’t have FRIENDS. It was a devastating realization and the only person to blame was myself. I was the one who had created those barriers and boy, I was the one who was gonna break them down.

And I did. I did the work. I figured out who I was and slowly started letting people see that person. Day by day, I watched my relationships get stronger – the casual catching up and small talk I was used to turned into deep, meaningful conversations with people. And the strangest thing happened: the more I let people see me, the more they let me see them. It was a beautiful thing, a powerful thing. My relationships became a safe place, an open place, a place where I was listened to and loved and KNOWN, truly fully KNOWN.

Let yourself be known today. Trust me, you’re awesome. And if you don’t think so, it’s your silly little brain telling you that. You are unique, one of a kind, and so unbelievably worthy of being known.