The Source of Joy & Validation

What makes you truly happy? What are the things in your life that make you feel alive? At peace? Joy?

We see movies and TV shows about people who struggle for this happiness. Or maybe when they finally have what they think they need to be happy, they aren't. So in shows like Mad Men, we see complex characters have these affairs. Or the women get depressed and accept it. Or people rationalize their lives and choices without realizing it. They get comfortable and think they are happy. Whatever the case, the question of what drives happiness remains. Where does true joy come in?

I see a lot of examples of people who are unhappy in their circumstances and in their lives. So many people who seem stuck. It feels helpless to watch. For me, there are a few things that make me feel alive and connected. Being with friends. Being outside in lovely weather. Being amongst nature (without the bugs, thankyouverymuch). And more than anything else, God & Caleb. Not always, but with Caleb and with God are the times that I have felt most alive and connected to my soul.

People are complex. Layer upon layer, there are reasons for why people are who they are. Each moment in our lives, big and small, build us up to the person we are. And the choices we make now, each day, move us forward to who we might want to be. But of course, it is never that simple.

In the back of my mind, I have lately had a few big life questions that have come up since the whole "moving on" thing happened a few months ago. (Written about in these posts: 1. Love & Freedom, 2. Moving On, 3. Cheers to the Future, & 4. I Fall, He Lifts Me Up).

What gives you value?
Who determines your self worth?

I think for me, for so many years, my worth was in Caleb's dad. Even when weren't together the last 3.5 years, we were still bound by emotion and a child and memories and baggage and unresolved things. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, he got a 20 year old girlfriend a few weeks after repeatedly asking me to date him. I said no. I said no every time because I knew I needed to move on. I knew I didn't want to go back. I knew there was more. I believed there was more. At the very least, I knew I needed someone who respected my beliefs in God, let alone respected me (for being more than "a good mom").

I don't know why him getting a girlfriend hurt me so much. Maybe because we loved for so long. Maybe because I was the girl in his life for so many years, even after we broke up. Maybe because he is a fantastic father, as I knew he would be. It's hard not to feel like it was just a blur of wasted time. Of mistakes of ever meeting and knowing and loving. So many memories. Good and bad. I didn't know how to let go, even while I refused to date him again. How do you do it? Let go of that one person you thought you'd love into old age? I tried doing it on my own for a long time. And I  refused to date him for months. Then it seems like God stepped in and caused him to deviate his attention elsewhere, pretty much for the first time in 9 years. I don't really know if that's what happened, God doing that and all. But I do know that I was free in a way I didn't know how to be until this happened. Free in a way I knew I had needed and wanted for so long. That, I attribute to God. So it doesn't makes sense to be sad. I don't understand it. But the heart doesn't make sense. My mind understands all of it. And yet I still feel sad sometimes. Would I ever go back? No. No, no no. I didn't want to when I could have, and I don't want to now.

However, I realized after all of this happened, I had all these little issues of self worth and value come up. All these "if" statements in my mind. If I just am ________, then maybe ________. I attributed my value to things that I never have before. I'm still working on all this stuff. Still pondering these big questions in life. And making it a point to fight against these "if" statements.

I think the answer for me, is that my self worth and value should never come from another person. No matter who that person is. My self worth and value should come from God. The source of life, joy, and clarity. I need my source of validation to come from God. We can be validated from other places. That's a good thing. But I don't think that should be what defines us or carries our self worth. We so easily look to our friends, significant others, kids, appearances, etc. for validation and to answer this question of worth. I think I lose myself when I don't make it a point to see the world through the eyes of Jesus. And I think I lose myself when I don't see myself through that same prism. It's a life long mission, I think. And I could be doing better right now with getting back to being more centered. I've lost that focus. My clarity that I had feels fuzzy and distant.

That's all for now. Gotta run and pick up Caleb and engage in another "what is for dinner/will you please eat" battle.

Some Recent Images of Joy: