Permission to be happy…
Several years ago my family moved across the country to Florida, at the time it was a huge step of faith, as Dr. French did not have a job there. We were going to go and “spy out the land” and he was going to keep his counseling practice and job going here in Oklahoma until another opportunity presented itself.
What that meant for me was I would start a new job working full time, start my kids in a new school in the middle of the year, start leading worship at the church plant we went to help serve at, and Larry would be gone every other week as he flew back to Oklahoma to work.
My boys were in pre-K, kindergartner, and first grade when we arrived. The pace of life I was used to, flexible work-from-home jobs, a really helpful husband, easy small-town life, was now all gone. New culture, new life, new city. Hard!
I was pissed off for 8 months!
I complained, I cried, I yelled at my kids a lot, I was mad at my husband, I second-guess everything, and I felt like it was all a huge mistake. I felt abandoned and alone.
I was at a conference and heard a powerful story told by Sheryl Sandberg. She lost her husband suddenly when they were on vacation and he died working-out. She had 2 small children and she was an executive at Google. After the tragic incident she was going through therapy and her therapist said to her “at some point, you are going to have to give yourself permission to be happy.”
I felt like I got hit right in the gut. I did not want to hear this! If I was unhappy, I did not have to accept this life, if I was unhappy, I could be mad and blame everything else and not have to adjust, I could just remain angry. But if I was to be happy, I had to adjust ME.
So after 8 months, of being perpetually pissed off, I decided it was time. It was time to address the lies, the cultural pressures, my posture, my attitude, and maybe even the rules I was placing on myself that had me believing I was stuck in a “helpless” situation undeserving of happiness.
Adjusting to the new pressures of life meant, adjusting my ways! So I stopped cooking dinner every night! This was a sacred ritual for me. But I found myself rushing to get my kids, rushing home, rushing to the kitchen, frantically trying to make a meal, while pushing my kids away and out of the way so I could do this “really important thing for them” and I was stressed and they were not exactly angels as I sent them off to play, and I realized pretty quickly, this is not going to work.
I had to make a change. Culture is telling me I have to do all this to be a good mom and have healthy kids, but I needed a new way. So I adjusted. I would come home and make us a smoothie, or a quick cheese and crackers if needed and I just played with my kids. No chores, no cooking, no pushing them away, just come home and play.
The joy and the cuddle time, the adventures, the dance competitions, the books we read, and the rockets we made, changed the atmosphere and my experience. There was a new peace that came to our home as I addressed the energy I was pushing out and adjusted myself.
I had to adjust to make sure I did not remain in the posture of a victim. Constantly blaming my circumstances and feeling the right to be angry and unhappy. I had to change my perspective and start looking for the good and pursue joy. I had to find ways to bring new parenting techniques and a new presence to my home because the boy’s behavior and acting out was not their fault, it was MINE.
My dears, most likely there are expectations, requirements, rules, and regulations YOU have placed on your life, your kids, your house, your career, etc. that need to be critically scrutinized.
The ways we see life and approach life can make us miserable or bring joy and happiness. We always have a choice. It’s time to give yourself permission to be happy.