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!

XOOXOXXOXO

Tate

Advertisements

Passionate About Passion

So for those of you who don’t already know, I entered a writing contest a few months ago and I just found out that I won. WOOO. Considering I found out about the contest a few days before the final submission date and totally entered on a whim, this came as a huge shock to me. So with that being said, I am now officially a published writer which is so exciting and professional sounding and gahhhh :))))

BUT this post is not about that and I don’t want this to come off as braggy in any way. My point in telling you all of that is because after the initial shock and excitement of it all, God hit me with this amazing truth: He always has something up His sleeve and we usually have no idea about it. That little trickster.

But let me rewind a bit. As far as my writing goes, I’ve basically been writing as long as I can remember. Heck, I probably have a journal entry about popping out of the womb for all I know. But seriously, writing has been a huge part of my life since like…forever. I have journal entries about my recess struggles in elementary school (ugh mean girls) to when my Dad and Papa both got very sick to the deepest and darkest thoughts during my eating disorder. Pretty much everything that’s happened in my life has been written down. I keep all of those journals in a little drawer in my closet, locked and tucked away for no one to see. But there’s a sense of comfort in knowing I can pull out any journal at any time and be transported back to that time in my life, reliving those memories again and again.

I never really thought of writing as a career. I mean, I loved to do it, but it was always more of a hobby to me. But as I’ve grown older and older, I’ve started to see how it could become something I do for a living one day. How lucky I am to have found the thing that lights my soul on fire, yet also could make me some monaaay. But mostly lights my soul on fire, that’s the important part 🙂

It’s not just MY writing I’m hooked on, though. I’ve been a bookworm for as long as I  can remember. There’s something about opening a book and forgetting about your own troubles as you get transported to different scenes and characters and lives. It’s like a time machine almost. My fascination with books has only grown stronger and stronger as I have grown. You guys think I’m kidding when I say I’m at Barnes and Noble every day. Jokes on you.

This past year I’ve focused even more on writing, both my own and the works of others. I entered a few creative writing classes at school and absolutely fell in love with them. You ever have one of those moments that made you stop and think, “Yes. THIS is what I was made to do.” Yeah, pretty much me every time I had my writing classes. It was so exhilarating to feel like I finally found my purpose in life.

After that realization, I became even more obsessed with reading and writing, if that’s even possible. Poetry, in particular, became a newfound love of mine and something I’m now experimenting with on my own. I started this blog as I way to share my thoughts with all of you. I have an ongoing list of my favorite poems and quotations that I add to every few days. I have about thirty pages so far and I have a feeling this is only the beginning :’) I find so much connection in reading the words of others, like I know them and they know me even though we have never met. Interesting how someone can write something that resonates with you so deeply. Maybe we’re all more similar than we think. Maybe writing is our way of showing that.

BUT ANYWAYS, back to my original topic! Sorry that was kind of a long intro. I told you all of that stuff because I feel like God spends so much time preparing us for things we have no idea are going to happen. My love for writing, my love for reading, the summers I spent with my nose nuzzled in a book, the journal I carry around everywhere I go?  Those things didn’t happen by mistake. They were all preparing me for this moment and the moments to come. Maybe my thirty page list of quotes will be a thirty page list of MY quotes one day. You never know with God, you really don’t. Which is probably the most exciting thing ever (other than reading and writing of course). Lol jk, you win God.

My point is, the things that are happening to you right now are somehow preparing you for something in the future. The pain you’re feeling? It’s making you stronger for something down the road. The confusion you’re feeling about your own career path? God’s way of letting you explore and figure out what you truly love. The hours you’re practicing in hopes to be a famous athlete or singer or writer or whatever it may be, they’re going to pay off somehow, someway. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, happens by mistake and no minute is wasted. God is constantly preparing, constantly prepping, constantly scheming up something for us in the future. Oh how lucky we are to have a Father who looks out for us even when we are blind to His plan.

And one last point while I’m feeling super pumped about this! Listen to me and listen well: Find what you love and do it. Did you hear that? Find what you love and do it. Especially the last part. Even if you don’t think it will make you “good money” or it isn’t a “growing field” or blah blah blah. If you are passionate about something and you want to make it happen, make it happen. You’re the only one who can. Put in the hard work and follow your dreams. I hate how cliche that sounded but you know what I mean. Life is too short to be stuck in a job you hate and always have that thought of “What if?” Eliminate that possibility for regret and do what you want NOW. After all, what’s a life without passion or purpose? Not one that I want to live, that’s for sure.

XOXO Tate

 

Keeping a Heavenly Perspective

I needed today. I needed fresh air and trees and adventure. Sunshine, leaves, and a mountaintop perspective. There’s something to be said for leaving the city behind and spending a day with no phone, no worries, no obligations. Just me and the trees. And my boyfriend lugging along complaining how long we were hiking. Ahhh perfection.

Towards the end of the day, Chris and I went to my favorite place IN THE WORLD (yes, more than Disneyland) and as always, it filled my soul to the brim. It was surprisingly vacant for a Saturday, which me and Chris were thrilled about. It’s always a good thing when you see more trees than people. We spent the afternoon exploring and laughing and admiring the beauty around us.

While we were hiking, I had this huge epiphany moment. Actually here’s the exact place where this moment happened so ya’ll can get a clearer picture:

FullSizeRender (5).jpg

Beautiful, isn’t it? The water, the trees, the way the sky is reflecting off the lake. It was one of those moments that you’ll remember the rest of your life. One of those moments when you feel like everything is right in the world. One of those moments where you can’t help but thank God for what He has made.

And THIS is when my epiphany started. I was just sitting there soaking everything in when I had this thought: I don’t think anything could ever be prettier than this. Like I was fully convinced I could check “VISIT PRETTIEST PLACE EVER” off my bucket list. But then…God hit me with this thought: If you think this is pretty, just wait until Heaven. And then my head started spinning and I started thinking about Heaven and Earth and Jesus and nature and everything in between. And here’s what I came up with:

This place is not our home. Earth is just sort of a pit stop before we get to our final destination. A nice pit stop, none the less – none of that motel 1 crap. We’re lucky that we get to stay here for awhile and experience moments like the one above. We have sunshine and mountains and flowers and rivers, oceans and animals and forests and canyons. We live on a beautiful planet full of people and places that will never fail to take our breath away. But this is not our home. And if we think the things HERE will take our breath away, I cannot even IMAGINE what Heaven will be like.

I wish I could describe what I think Heaven will be like, but I know it’s above and beyond my wildest dreams (raise your hand if you just started singing Tswift). I have some ideas of what I hope is there, some requests I may ask God if He could have arranged. I hope it’s one big party with all of us Christ followers, a reunion where I will finally get to see my dear loved ones who have already passed. I hope there’s some type of movie theater where we can watch undercover footage of events in the bible as they actually happened. Can you imagine being able to see Jesus walk on water? Or being nailed to the cross? Or sitting down and breaking bread with His disciples? I hope heaven is full of people and animals and creatures we may not even know exist. But like I said, this is just a guess, just something I think about from time to time. Quite honestly, I have no idea what God has in store for us up there. I mean, does anyone really?

And that’s the most beautiful part of it all, the most wondrous part of it all. Heaven is one big mystery and I’ll have no idea what it’s actually like until I’m up there one day. Oh, what a glorious day that will be! The day I will finally fall on my knees and meet my savior and discover the magical mystery of the world above. I think it will be overwhelming and exciting and all of those things, but I also think it will feel like coming home. After all, that’s where we really belong.

On the dashboard of my car, I have a little note that says, “Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can’t heal.” Cancer, heartbreak, addiction, road rage. There is no pain too big for God. Let me repeat that: THERE IS NO PAIN TOO BIG FOR GOD. He heals our pain in all different ways: sometimes it’s time or meeting the right people or losing everything until all we have is Him. And sometimes, it’s being sent home to our real home, Heaven. Death is not something to be afraid of when you know it’s followed by more life. Can it even be considered death if it’s just our physical bodies that die? Our souls, the REAL part of us, will always be alive. Our last breath on Earth will be followed by our first breath in Heaven. And that is something to be excited for, not fearful of.

I hope you soak that in and really think about what we have in store for us. We’re here for now, but we’re not here for long. Keeping a heavenly perspective will allow us to enjoy the time we have left on Earth, but be excited and expectant for the life we have after that. Heaven, here we come!

XOXO your happy little camper,

Tate

COME

So here’s what I’m not gonna talk about today: religion, rules, “good” vs “bad” Christians

and here’s what I am gonna talk about today: Jesus, loving people, doing things

I put that little disclaimer up there because I don’t want people to automatically be turned away because this is a “religious” post. Quite frankly, I hate the word religion. I love Jesus, but hate religion (and yes, there is a big difference).

Religion feels scary to me. It feels big and overwhelming and forced, like there are certain things I have to follow or I’m kicked out of the club. Who knows, maybe I even need to know the secret code word to get in the club. Religion seems boring, black and white, and ultimately exclusive. You can count me out.

But Jesus! Ohhhhh Jesus. The Jesus lifestyle is a messy one. It’s not bound by rules or regulations or things you “should” or “shouldn’t” do. Instead, it’s bound by love and grace and overflowing joy. Jesus is not complicated or strict or judgy in any type of way. Everyone is welcome in His club, whether you know the secret code word or not. But there is one thing you must do to be a Jesus follower and that one thing is to come.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” -Matt 11:28

Come. To. Me. Just come. That’s all you have to do and I promise the rest will fall into place. When you come to Jesus, you will get a taste of His love and peace and overflowing joy and you will never want to turn back. You’ll feel the touch of His hand and hear the softness of His voice and it will finally feel like you are returning home. But at first you must come.

Whenever I read my bible I try to make it really personal by entering myself into the story. So for this one, I went back in my mind to all of the times I wasn’t following God. All of the places, the boys, the memories I’ve tried to forget. I pulled them out of my memory and pictured them just as they were, except with Jesus in the corner. I pictured Him being there for everything, seeing everything, and without any judgement or shame, telling me to come back home. Not to get punished or in trouble, but because He simply wants something better for me. He just needs me to come.

Does this resonate for any of you guys? Can any of you picture those moments where Jesus may have been lurking in the corner, whispering you to come home? It’s a pretty powerful image. The fact that He would come down and enter my messy life so that I could join in on His perfect one completely blows my mind. Now that is true love.

And let me get one thing straight. I’m not saying that once you follow Jesus your life will be butterflies and roses. The Jesus life is a fulfilling life and one that I want to live forever, but lemme tell ya, it’s tough. My problems didn’t automatically stop when I followed Jesus and there’s not an imaginary bubble that protects me now from any other problems. But what there is is someone I can go to with all of those problems, all of that messiness. Someone who won’t judge me or condemn for it, but will simply hold me and reassure me through it. If only I would come.

I said in my little disclaimer that I was going to talk about three things in this post: Jesus, loving people, and doing things. I’ve pretty much covered the first one, but now I wanna dig a little bit into the last two. Once again, these aren’t religious things that you are forced to do as  Christian. However, once you follow Jesus and get a taste of His goodness, you can’t help but want to do the same. Loving people and doing things just happen to be the two biggest ways.

Remember how I said the Jesus life can be hard? Well this whole loving people thing is part of it. I know I’ve talked about this in one of my earlier posts, but it’s worth mentioning again. Loving people requires time, effort, and patience and sometimes I’m a little low on my levels of time, effort, and patience. Like I always say, patience is a virtue…that I do not possess. Lol buuuut I’m working on it! But anyways, loving people takes all of those things and it’s not always easy, especially when it comes to “difficult” people. I hate using that term because I think I’m a difficult person myself, but you know what I mean. Or the people who are just downright mean, or know how to get under your skin, or ohhhh those brutal high school girls. But Jesus doesn’t pick and choose who He decides to love, does He? Remember this isn’t an ultimately exclusive club. And if I want to be more and more like Jesus, I must love more and more people. And love them well, for that matter.

And doing things! Ahhh the exciting part! The Jesus lifestyle is an adventurous one, my friends. As cheesy as it sounds, Jesus will take you places you’d never thought you go. He gives us each a sense of purpose and passion and it’s our job to go do it. If your heart’s in Haiti, go there. If you’re musically talented, lead worship. If you like kids, play with them. Wherever you go, whoever you meet, whatever you do, your job is to show the love of Jesus. This “doing things” part is our way of being the hands and feet of our Savior.

So that’s all I have for you today, friends! COME to Jesus, LOVE people, and DO things. Simple as that.

xoxoxoxoxoxo

Tate