Happy or Unhappy Forest (Day 27)

I had a plan today--I would write about my hair. 

(Today was my 5-week root appointment. And I do love to talk about my hair.) 

The post, of course, would be funny and absolutely self-centered, as is the nature of my personal brand of blogging. But then I got some news about a church family we know--news which felt really close to home. Our church is home and family for us--even though I haven't been in the sanctuary since March 13, 2020. It is our church that has held us tight in love and friendship and faith. When any one of us is hurting, we all hurt. 

The news just hit me hard and woke up all the fears lingering underneath--will this pandemic ever end? who will it claim? will it knock on our door? This pandemic and truly, the whole experience of this life, can knock you down when you least expect it--awakening those rational and irrational fears, threatening your joy and your happiness and your very relationship with God.

It brings up the eternal questions: Why do bad things happen? What is the secret to being happy? How do we live in happiness when everything is temporary and uncertain?

I often struggle with the forest idea of my own personal happiness. What I mean by this is if I peek into my personal mental forest and saw all the trees, you'd see more happy trees than unhappy trees. But, the unhappy ones are still there and sometimes they are a little taller than the happy trees. So, as I pull my vision back to the forest perspective of my life, I am never sure if the math leans in favor of the happy trees or the unhappy trees. Or is it an even split?

I never realized how much I struggle with accepting that I deserve happiness until I started writing everyday this year and meditating. Happiness and joy are topics that pop up frequently. The Happiness mediations are impossible for me to sit through. And I guess that is nature of the struggle of this life--perfect happiness is temporary, horrible unhappiness is temporary, but it is the true, deep happiness that endures--you just have to find it within yourself. 

I think that is hard to accept when people you love are hurting. Or when you are hurting. Or when the world is hurting. It is hard to see a happy forest, when the trees seem to be so dominantly unhappy. How do you find the enduring, true happiness in the midst of the very opposite?

Logically I know it is always okay to happy. In fact, this is a desirable trait--like when someone talks of kids with cancer and they say, a bit naively, that "their smiles never left their face," even in the midst of cancer. 

The thing is, we all know that no one is happy all the time. We all know that no child smiles their way through surgery and radiation and needle pricks. We all know that our bubbles burst--and each of us is going to experience some really bad days if we live long enough, God willing. But, then we will have the really good days, again, too. 

So which tips the scales, the happy or the unhappy?

I think, for me, the key might be back to recalling that perfect happiness is temporary, horrible unhappiness is temporary, but true, deep happiness endures. I think I need to ditch the scales, forget the tree and look at the beautiful, complicated forest.