I started dating someone.
We’ve been together for a little over 2 months, and so far everything is going pretty well. Very well, in fact. I’ve been very honest with him about my brokenness and the hurt I’m still wrestling with, and for some reason he is very willing to walk through all that healing with me. He is even reading this blog to get an idea of what I’m going through. Poor guy. (And everyone can send a collective prayer for him now). I feel really good and really happy. And not just because I’m dating someone. I want to be clear on that. I can see the good that God is working in my life in so many areas. I’m ecstatic about that. And I’m also super excited about this new relationship. I know I have work to do on myself still, but I’m happy.
Still though, there’s underlying struggle that keeps rearing its ugly head. I wrote last week about the lies I struggle with and the truth that dispels those lies. This week’s struggle falls into the same category. The problem is that this lie is rooted much, much deeper than the lies I wrote about last week. It is more far-reaching in it’s impact on my life and how I live, and it is built off a very specific fear. The fear is that if I am happy, it makes my ex justified and possibly even correct in what he did. I know that probably sounds completely insane to someone who has had different life experiences. But every time I start to really feel happy, content, and satisfied with where my life is, my mind goes back to a very specific conversation that I had with my ex.
The one where he said that it was the best thing for him to leave me.
The one where he told me that he really hopes one day I found someone who would love me the way that he loves the girl who broke up my marriage.
The one where he basically told me he was doing me a favor by rejecting me and abandoning his vows.
The one where he told me that he was making it possible for me to truly be happy. By betraying me.
So, now I have quite the conundrum. I obviously don’t want to stay miserable forever. Or even for one more second. I also don’t want him to have the credit for my happiness.
And can I just say – what a crappy thing to do. A crappy, selfish, manipulative thing to do – to claim possession of my future happiness without him. To try to steal credit for the good in my life.
Now that I’m starting to really feel happy and satisfied with my life, I continue to return to that conversation. I am concerned that maybe he was right. After all, he did leave, and I am feeling happiness. Plus, there are some who claim the name of Christ and agreed with him that if he wasn’t happy in his marriage and didn’t think he could keep his vows anymore, he should walk away (because it’s better to walk away than to be miserable if you don’t feel like keeping your wedding vows).
Today, I was drawn to particular place Scripture that illustrates the truth behind the lie I am wrestling with. It is a very familiar story to me. I’ve heard a 1,000 times. Maybe you have too.
The Story of Joseph
Joseph. Talk about someone who had the best intentions and yet things just never quite worked out how he thought they would. I get that Joseph was not completely innocent in the situation. He was a bit naive and a bit unwise early on, and didn’t use much discernment in how he communicated. I don’t know that we can completely blame him for that, though, because Genesis 37 is very clear that his father openly favored him above his brothers. The story goes that Joseph’s brothers, jealous and angry about his position with their father and his prophetic dreams declaring that he would rule over them, decided to sell him into slavery in Egypt.
In Egypt, Joseph is falsely accused of attempting to rape his boss’s wife, and he’s thrown into prison. While he’s in prison, he rises in the ranks and become basically second in command of the prison. He interprets two dreams for his fellow inmates. Even though they promised to remember him, the one who makes it back to the king’s court immediately forgets to help Joseph. Years later, Joseph is finally remembered and is brought before the king to interpret his dreams. Again, God blesses him with the ability, he’s able to interpret pharaoh’s dreams, giving the warning that they needed. Years past, and because of Joseph’s position and his ability to interpret dreams, the entire region is spared from death by famine.
Eventually, Joseph is reconciled with his brothers. And they don’t look at Joseph’s wealth and position and say, “Wow, look at how great you are doing. Wasn’t it great that we sold you all those years ago? We really helped you out.” And even if they did, it wouldn’t matter. It is obvious that his brothers were wrong for trying to murder him and alternately selling him into slavery. Very obvious. That was SIN. And it is obvious that God is the One who blessed Joseph.
Joseph’s response to his brothers relays that very message: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20).
What they meant for harm, God meant for good. Because God is good, God allowed good to come to Joseph, because Joseph chose to honor God in all situations.
Now, this story is not directly about happiness. It is about God and how God works in our lives. When we walk with God, choosing His best for us, it will produce happiness and joy in our lives. Even in the hard situations. Even in the situations that happen because of someone else’s sin. That’s when I see Joseph. Joseph followed God’s best plan in every situation, and he was greatly blessed for it. To the point where he is able to recognize that what others did to harm him down, God used to bring great benefits to others.
No one on this earth has the power or the importance to control my joy and happiness. James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” The happiness, joy, and contentment I experience comes from God. Only God – HE gets all the credit.