Don't waste time chasing after the things you think will make you happy. Instead, be the person you were created to be and do the things God has called you to do and happiness and joy will follow.
The other night I was saw a post of social media from one old friend to another old friend. Interested to see what was going on in their lives, I clicked on her name to check out her page. As I scrolled through her timeline, I was genuinely happy to see that she was living such a happy and fulfilled life as a Christian single woman. Then my eyes landed on one picture and post in particular.
It was “Throw Back Thursday” and she’d posted a picture from an event we’d both attended. Her caption said something like, “This is one of my favorite memories”.
It struck me as odd, because I don’t remember the night quite as fondly. Instead, I remember it being very frustrating and disappointing. A night that I later told people, “I’d just rather forget.”
What was it that made the same event, in the same place, on the same night---heck, we sat at the same table---have two such completely different outcomes?
Looking back, I can see that it was the attitude that each of us chose going into the night.
You see, going into the night, my friend decided that she was going to enjoy herself. I literally remember having a conversation with her where she said, “I’m not going to worry about impressing people or hanging out with the popular crowd. This is my night, I’m going to wear my best dress, go with a friend, and enjoy the night.”
I, on the other hand, did not make her choices.
Instead, I went into the event worrying about what everybody else thought. I was trying to impress people, get “the right” people to approve of me, and I went with a popular guy who was more interested in himself than he was in me. I drove myself completely crazy worrying about what other people would think, and at the end of the night walked away very dissatisfied and unhappy.
Looking back, I think that night may have been a turning point for me. Although I can’t say that I never struggled with the desire to have other people’s approval, to be part of the “in” crowd, or the desire to meet a guy who would make me live happily ever after again, it was definitely the day that I first caught a glimmer of the truth that working so hard to get these things was crazy. There had to be a better way to find happiness and fulfillment.
I wish I could say that I learned the keys to the “better way” right away, but the truth is that it took me awhile. (Years in fact) However, somewhere along the journey I finally began to catch on to the secret to being really happy and enjoying your life.
What’s the key?
Stop chasing and start embracing.
One key that I’ve learned to being happy as a Christian single (or just a woman in general) is that you’ve got to stop wasting your time wishing for things you don’t have and chasing after things or people thinking that they will fill your needs.
Oh, how I wish I would have learned this lesson earlier!
When I think of all the time I wasted chasing after approval, titles, relationships, and keeping up appearances, I’m overcome with regret. What was I thinking wasting all this time trying to impress people I didn’t even necessary like, contorting my personality to try to fit some man’s definition of “the perfect woman”, just plain wearing myself out trying to be someone other than the person God had created me to be? As the writer in Ecclesiastes puts it, my efforts were “All meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”
It wasn’t until I decided to give up chasing---to completely abandon the endless pursuit of the things I thought would make me happy—that I began to finally experience true joy, fulfillment, and contentment in my life. Oddly enough, when I stopped searching for that one elusive thing that would make me happy, I found that I had lots of reasons to be happy all around me. They were just waiting for me to stop chasing the wind and start embracing them.
As we’re entering into this holiday season, especially this month where we’re focused on giving thanks, I challenge you to make the same choice that my friend did. Choose to focus on the good things in your life, embrace them, and enjoy them. Don’t spend the entire holiday wishing and chasing after the things you wish you had in your life, but rather, make the absolute most of the things God has given you.
Enjoy the party that’s happening in your life rather than wishing you’d received a different invitation. Stop chasing and start embracing. Give thanks for everything and see if you don’t look back at the end of this season and say, “This is one of my favorite memories.”