Truth be told, I have a relatively new toxic and estranged relationship with my mother. I say new because I didn't know it was always toxic until I found my life and happiness in Christ. Talk about a life shift! When I do try to talk to her and she tries to talk to me, it just turns into demeaning victimizing on her part with lots and lots of caps and explanation marks if we're texting (which is 95% of the time because it's the only way I can take her). I get shoved out of my happy place, it sorta feels like getting kicked out of your own home. It happened this past weekend, and boy was it bad! I haven't been in contact with her just to protect myself from verbal abuse and to protect her from me saying anything "disrespectful" in lieu of standing up from myself from attacks. I prayed and decided to check on her and warn her about Hurricane Harvey. I live in Texas and she's in Louisiana. Then BOOM! Here comes the attacks. I tried to hold my own and they just kept on coming. Y'all!!!! I was SO defeated and flustered! I was burning up and pacing back and forth. I felt so sick, I might as well drank a bottle of poison. Talk about toxic!!
To be fair, just like many other people and unfortunately parents, she has other things bothering her and she decides to project that on to others. I'll say she's unhappy. For 23 years of my life (I'm 26) I learned to cope with her unhappiness as my unhappiness. But because I found my happiness in Christ, I am dedicated to protecting it. It took all the strength from God to snap out of it and find my happy place!
There’s false and negative (super irritating, annoying, and overly spiritualized) distinction that‘s been made between joy and happiness. The message goes a little something like this: “Happiness is superficial and shallow. You can only find happiness in the world, you need to seek joy over happiness in God.” I've eye-rolled so much at that statement, I'm surprised my eyeballs aren't stuck!
I did a little researching of the Hebrew and Greek words and saw that many of them are translated in different versions as “joy,” “gladness,” “happiness,” “delight,” merriment,” “pleasure.” These words all have overlapping meanings. Hey get this, ninety percent of a Hebrew word that‘s translated “joy” overlaps with one that‘s translated “happiness.” Just go read a Psalm for yourself. Here's an excerpt from one of my favorites: Psalm 40:16: “May all those who seek You be happy and rejoice in You...” Let's get real, all people seek happiness. We’re basically telling them, “Stop desiring what God created you to desire.” We actually should be saying, “Search for your happiness in the right place—in God Himself.”
I constantly repeated "I'm not going to let anyone or anything make me withdraw. I'm my own person and I belong to God and no one else! I'm in control of how I want to feel!!!" If we just sit around and wait for ppl to change how we feel, we'll just be waiting and unhappy! And God knows (seriously knows) I've sat around and waited. My happiness IS indeed found in Christ so I'll live out my life like so by actively protecting it.
How to protect your happy:
#1. Give yourself permission to be happy. DON'T SHRINK! Don't feel bad about it! And don't ALLOW others to make you feel bad about it either.
#2. Accept responsibility for your OWN happiness. This means that it's a conscious effort and choice to be happy and it isn't anyone else's responsibility to make you happy. When we place that responsibility on others we can create unhealthy boundaries and set ourselves up for disappointment when others don't make us "happy." Remember, this is about protecting YOUR happiness. OWN IT!
#3. Acknowledge and accept the fact that the enemy is out here looking to steal kill and destroy. Protect yourself against him. How? Commune with God: pray, read the word, fellowship with other like minded believers. Be aware of toxic behaviors. Steer clear of anything or anyone who drains your energy mentally, emotionally or spiritually. Project your time attention on lovely things, things that are pleasing to God! (Philippians 4:8).
#4. Practice self care DAILY...and don't feel bad about it!! YOU ARE A PRIORITY. Caring for yourself isn't selfish. It's actually in the best interest of others because you're able to better serve others when your cup is overflowing. We can't pour from an empty cup. When you try, you end up feeling cranky, defeated, used, and well...unhappy! The people you're trying to serve will feel that! You'll just be running on fumes. Take time out of your day each and every day to take care of YOU! It could be hours or just a few minutes. If you look at your schedule and find no time for yourself, reevaluate your priorities. Do something that's unrelated to someone else or your business. It could be watching your favorite show alone while eating your favorite snack, window shopping at Target or my personal favorite; taking a hot shower with dimmed lighting, a favorite candle burning and relaxing music. Take care of you! You matter.
#5. Last but certainly not least, JUST DON'T TAKE ANYONE'S ATTACKS PERSONAL. (Refer to #3.) It can be so easy to internalize someone else's unhappiness with your own. Then you lose yourself in that person ultimately unable to be authentically you and purpose driven. Not taking things and people personally is KEY in protecting your happiness.
This is all about protecting your happiness, creating it or fixing your unhappiness. Our happiness is found in Christ. Even when outside forces try to convince us that our happy place no longer exists, remember the Ground it is built upon. You've been blessed with talents, gifts, a business, and family and friends. Protect your happiness so you can operate fully in all of His blessings and live and lead with purpose!
Father I pray that whoever reads this is reminded that their joy, peace, and happiness matters to you. I pray that they search You for it and anything working against them is dissolved so they can lead and live with fulfillment in the purpose You've created for their lives. In Jesus name, Amen.
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