Maybe I’ve watched too many Hallmark movies.
Maybe I’ve just watched too many 90s rom-coms in general.
Perhaps it’s Walt Disney’s fault or maybe the stories I was told as a child.
Whatever the source, I’ve recently realized that like many in my generation, there is a “happily ever after” mentality deep inside of me that I need to overcome.
Yes, you read that right—I need to overcome it. Let me explain.
I started noticing it a few weeks ago as we were going through a challenging time. Among all of the decisions and stress, I found myself feeling angry that life took this detour.
This wasn’t the way I planned things.
It wasn’t the way it was supposed to happen.
Self-righteous as it may sound, I honestly felt like I had been faithfully following God by faith, doing my best to walk in obedience, and serving Jesus with all that I had. So why was this happening?
After spending time in prayer and realizing there was deep disappointment in my heart, I decided to talk to my brother (because confession is good for the soul). I shared that one of the things I was struggling with was that this wasn’t the “happily ever after” I imagined. That’s when he shared these very wise words that have changed my perspective.
He said, “God doesn’t necessarily guarantee us a happily ever after until Heaven. Look at Joseph. Even after he was released from prison, made ruler of Egypt, and all of his dreams came true, he still had problems to face. God sent his family back to him, and they were still his family with all of their problems. He had to forgive them, manage them, and take care of them. Life goes on.”
If we look at others in the Bible, we see that the Bible doesn’t contain happily ever after stories. None of its characters ride off into the sunset, never to struggle again.
Why not? Because the Bible isn’t a fairy tale or a movie. The men and women in the Bible are real people. They lived real lives. They faced ups and downs, peaks and valleys. They had amazing victories but also endured times of enormous struggle.
Yet, through it all, the common thread was that no matter what happened, God was with them. Through every season, He was there leading and guiding them and helping them walk through whatever they faced.
As this truth began to sink into my heart, I realized that it was time to overcome my “happily ever after” mentality. The truth is that it isn’t Biblical. In fact, Jesus told His disciples just the opposite when He said, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
If we go back and read through the New Testament, we see that this wasn’t exactly what the disciples wanted to hear. You see, one of the obstacles they, too, had to overcome before they could fulfill the Great Commission was their own “happily ever after” idea. (And they didn’t even have Disney Plus!) Still, the fact was that the disciples were raised to believe that when the Messiah came, He would conquer the Roman government, set the people of Israel free, and they would be rulers in charge. As Jesus’ men, they imagined they would be kings—at least, His right-hand men.
As the time for the cross drew closer and closer, Jesus had to be the one to burst their bubble and teach them that this wasn’t God’s plan. Instead, God had a bigger plan to save the world from sin and death and usher in the kingdom of God for all generations. However, before they could play their part in God’s bigger plan, they needed to put their fantasy aside.
One thing I’m learning is that the same is true for all of us.
We need to come to the point where we realize that life is not a fairy tale and “happily ever after” is not guaranteed until we get to Heaven. We will all experience ups and downs, good times, and difficult times throughout our lives.
Yet through it all, we have God’s promises that He will never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)
That He will walk beside us giving us strength, courage, wisdom and peace. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
He promises that even in the darkest times of our lives, He will guide us through. (Psalm 23:4)
These promises and many more give us the hope to agree with Paul when he said:
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
This is why it is important that we overcome our “happily ever after mentality”—because it will always leave you disappointed. If you are always waiting for the happy ending, you will constantly be disappointed with life and even with God. However, when you overcome this false mentality, you can embrace God’s plan for your life and know that whatever comes, He has a plan, He has a purpose, and He is in control.
Like Paul, you can learn to be content in the good times and the bad and know that God will enable you and empower you to walk through any and every situation that He allows to come into your life. Even more importantly, He will use everything we go through for His glory and the advancement of His kingdom.
Ultimately, that is the problem with the “happily ever after” mentality—its main focus is on our happiness. That is not God’s priority. No, His priority is the advancement of His kingdom. It’s making you and I into the men and women that He wants us to be so we can fulfill the work He has called us to do.
Sometimes that means walking difficult roads.
Other times it means things don’t happen the way we planned.
As we mature as believers, we learn that these things are ok. Even if we don’t like it, we accept it and continue wholeheartedly following God accepting that He knows best.
At least that’s what I’m learning. As always, I thought I’d share it with you.
Hope it helps you with whatever you are facing today!
Adessa Holden is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God specializing in Women's Ministry. Together with her brother, Jamie, they manage 4One Ministries and travel the East Coast speaking, holding conferences, and producing Men's and Women's resources that provide practical Biblical teaching for everyday life.
When asked about herself, she'll tell you "I'm a women's minister, a sister, and a daughter. I love to laugh and spend time with people. My favorite things are chocolate, the ocean, sandals and white capris, anything purple, summertime and riding in the car listening to music. It is my absolute honor and privilege to serve Jesus and women through this ministry.