If you're happy and you choose it
One of my favourite people, Sarah, talks a lot about choice. About how we all have plenty of choices, every day. We can choose what time to get up in the morning. We can choose what to eat. We can choose what we think about most. We can choose what to believe. Some of those choices can be fairly life-altering. Some of them can be fairly hard.
Whether we like it or not, we make choices all the time about how we live our lives, and those choices have consequences in our lives.
Naturally, when Sarah had her first baby, she began to pass on this wisdom about choice to her daughter. “Are you going to choose to eat the brocolli, or the potato first?”
Once I was at her house and they sang this song:
“If you’re happy and you choose it clap your hands,
If you're happy and you choose it clap your hands,
If you’re happy and you choose it
And you really want to choose it
If you’re happy and you choose it clap your hands.”
I love this adaptation. It makes me smile. My favourite part is that it’s hard to find something that rhymes with “choose it” in the 3rd and 4th lines. (If you can find a good rhyme, let me know in the comments below!). I’ve spent most of my life letting my emotions decide themselves. Scratch that. I actually spent most of my life pretending I didn’t have any emotions other than happy. Particularly when I was in front of people.
I’d be smiling on the outside, but on the inside, all the less-than-happy emotions felt unruly and unsafe. I’d squish them down until they burst out of me like shaken up champagne. But it was much less glamourous...
God has taken me on a journey of accepting my full spectrum of emotions, as he has designed them. Of taking the pretend ‘happy, shiny me’ mask off. And he’s also been taking me on a journey of learning to manage my emotions rather than letting my emotions totally manage me. (Mostly with the help of wise people like Sarah.)
I don’t just have to be ‘happy when I know it’. He helps me choose happy.
I’ve learned that yes, I do have grumpy/frustrated/sad moments. Or grumpy/frustrated/sad days. Sometimes grumpy/frustrated/sad weeks. But when I bring these emotions to God, he can lift me out of them. He reminds me of the truth, he takes me out of a victim mentality that says “I’ll always be like this, there’s nothing I can do to change the way I feel.” He’s shown me that happiness doesn’t just have to come and go as randomly as the sunshine in an English summer. I don’t just have to be ‘happy when I know it’. He helps me choose happy. And I really like that.
I love Psalm 3:3 “But you, Oh Lord are a Shield about me. My Glory and the lifter of my head.” David’s own son has just totally betrayed him, and he is running for his life. Somewhere in the middle of that fleeing he manages to write this beautiful truth. David chose to express this truth and he chose to believe it.
No matter how bad things get, we have God as our shield. He is the one that lifts our head to look into his eyes, breaking our shame and bringing comfort into our painful moments.
My hope is that the frustrated/grumpy/sad moments, days, or weeks get shorter, as I learn to let God lift my head to look at him. And that even when I’m in the middle of the worst experience of my life, I can invite God into my emotions, choose to be fully emotionally alive, and allow him to bring me comfort, and, eventually, joy. And that’s my hope for you, too.
You can choose happiness.