Talk Yourself Happy
Part one of a two-part series from the former 700 Club host and author of the new book Talk Yourself Happy
It was January 1, and while the world celebrated a new year, all I could think was, I can’t believe I’m facing another year of nothing when all year I’ve been praying for something to happen. This was officially year two of life without a job. Not an easy thing when you’re a divorced, single parent whose spouse bailed on you and your son years prior, pillaging all bank accounts and leaving you high and dry to fend for yourself.
But it wasn’t just the no-job thing or even the “God, have you noticed my bank account is on empty?” thing. It was the “What in the world is going on in my life?” thing. And the “Where did I go wrong?” thing. I didn’t get it. I had done everything I knew to do, but I was quickly becoming heartsick and hope depleted.
In the past, it was hope that had kept my engine of faith moving forward. But these days, my engine light was on and my hope in God was sputtering to a halt.
Does God want us to be happy?
My life needed to change and I longed to be happy. In the Christian world, to say that you want to be happy is often met with a sideways glance and a frown. “To seek happiness is to seek something superficial, temporary and circumstantial,” I was told as I grew up in church. “It’s not about being happy, it’s about having the ‘joy of the Lord.’”
I get it. I’m not going to argue. But I don’t completely agree with that premise. I believe that happiness and joy are interrelated and completely dependent upon each other. David said, “In your presence there is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11 ESV). But what makes that joy full or complete? It’s the happy.
The happy moments that come in the form of God taking action in our lives.
The kind of action that blesses, heals, helps, guides, loves and restores.
The kind of action that collectively fulfills our lives and, as a result, brings us into his presence where there is fullness of joy.
It’s all about those God moments. Those moments when you know … that you know … that you know that God is actively working with you and for you, because he loves you. I love those happy moments, because they continuously show us that God is trustworthy. One of my favorite scriptures is Proverbs 16:20: “Whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he!” (NKJV).
Did you know that happiness is one of the many things God desires for us? In fact, the Greek word for “blessed” is makarios, which means “happy.” There are more than twenty-seven verses in the Bible that mention happiness. If the Word of God is a reflection of the heart of God, and if we can see through his Word that God recognizes the importance of happiness in our lives, then I’m not one to argue with him. Bring it on!
Did I do something wrong?
The problem I was facing that January, though, was that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find the happy. I didn’t know if I was blind to it or simply too marred from walking through the battlefield of life to see it. Whichever one it was, all evidence of what I knew to be happiness seemed to be gone.
Wasn’t that how life worked? You do good things, so you get good things? But my life didn’t feel good.
It felt as if God’s hand was so far away from me, I was beginning to believe that my God moments had become a thing of the past. So much so, I couldn’t smile and I couldn’t remember the last time I had laughed. My heart was so heavy that tears sprang up at the slightest mention of anything. I felt as if someone had injected my face with an overdose of Botox, and any expression of joy was restrained by the heaviness within my heart.
Did I do something wrong, God? I thought as I sat alone on my couch. Are you angry with me? I asked, not really expecting a response back. I had prayed and fasted so much in the past couple of years that I eventually told myself, Why bother? There’s nothing else I can say to God that I haven’t said at least a million times over. It felt as if my prayers were hitting the ceiling, and God had placed my life on the bottom of his to-do list. I felt alone in my struggle and was fully convinced that God had checked out, along with the rest of the world.
Here’s the crazy part. In my arrogance, I felt that I deserved better. Sixteen years serving in Christian ministry should count for something, right? I had lived a good Christian life, so God was supposed to give me good! Wasn’t that how life worked? You do good things, so you get good things? But my life didn’t feel good. And I was in a genuine quandary as to how I had gotten to this place and, more important, how to get out.
I just wanted to be happy again.
That New Year’s Phone Call
As soon as the phone rang, I knew it was my mother. You talk about a true woman of God; she is the real deal. My mother was the one who led me to the Lord when I was only five years old. As I sat on the couch in my family room remembering that day in my parents’ bedroom, I quietly wished I could go back to the mind-set of that little girl.
Without hesitation or reserve, that little girl unabashedly placed her love and trust in the Lord. She talked to God all the time and could sense his presence in every aspect of her life. But now that girl was a full-grown woman with a suitcase full of life experiences that begged to stand in the way of fully trusting anyone.
“Happy New Year!” my mother said over the phone. “How are you doing today?”
My response was brief and stoic. I didn’t have much to say.
She could sense my struggle, so she tried even harder to change my mood by sounding more upbeat and encouraging. It didn’t work.
I wasn’t in the mood to talk, but I muddled through the conversation anyway. The worries of life and the weight of discouragement had taken its toll. My mind inadvertently zoned in and out of the phone conversation until it was lured back at the mention of a struggle one of my sisters was going through.
“If God did it for me, then he’ll do it for her!”
As I listened to my mother talk, my mind flashed back to when I had gone through a similar battle. But then my mind zoomed past the struggle and landed on the way God had responded and intervened.
I began to remember how God healed my broken heart when it felt as if it was shattered into a million pieces. I remembered how God supernaturally provided for me and my son with things only he knew we needed. And I remembered how God sent the right people at the right time to open the right doors for us.
Suddenly, now fully engaged in the conversation, I began to tell my mother what I had remembered. “If God did it for me, then he’ll do it for her!” I said, with a new sense of rekindled hope in my voice as my words began to sink into my mind and change my heart.
“Girl! I just talked myself happy!”
The memory banks of God’s goodness in both of our lives were unleashed. We couldn’t stop talking about our personal experiences. “Remember when God did this … remember when God did that … !” we exclaimed, talking over each other. We were more than encouraged in the moment.
We were recharged by the hope we have in knowing who God is.
We were renewed by reminding ourselves of the vitality we gain by living in the presence of God.
And our personal circumstances were redefined because we chose to see our lives through the eyes of Christ rather than through the limitations of our own perspectives.
Our words were like light bulbs illuminating the handprint of God within our lives. They revealed countless moments of rescue, blessing, healing, deliverance, help, comfort and love.
As I verbally recounted God’s Word, God’s promises and God’s hand on my own life, the weight that had been a suffocating force lifted like an early morning mist in the summer sun.
The smile that had evaded me for so long revealed itself once again.
I heard laughter. Not from afar, as I had grown accustomed to. It was close. It was familiar. It came from me. Basking in the sweetness of God’s presence and grateful for the relief brought about by this welcomed breakthrough, I spoke words that would unveil my destiny.
“Girl, I just talked myself happy!”
Without skipping a beat, my mother responded, “Girl! I just talked myself happy too!”
That day, when I was speaking to my mother, something amazing happened. I realized that although my circumstances hadn’t changed, my heart and perspective had changed. Once again I was able to see God — as in, see his active hand working in my life.
Even in the midst of one of the most challenging seasons, joy and happiness had reared their pretty little heads and I refused to let them go. I pursued them with a vengeance. And it was in that pursuit that I discovered the keys that bring us all to a place of everlasting joy and genuine happiness, the place where, no matter what we’re going through in life, we can “talk ourselves happy.”
In part two, posting on Friday, Kristi Watts will share ways you can “talk yourself happy.” In the meantime, you can see Kristi yourself as she joins James and Betty Robison on LIFE Today this Thursday, Feb. 16, to discuss her new book Talk Yourself Happy. Here’s a preview.