By Abbie Hutchins
Lately I've been thinking a lot about grief. I feel like for the last year of my life, I've been grieving. I've been grieving the deaths of loved ones, and those people who could have so easily been me but somehow I was spared. Lately I've realized that I've been grieving the loss of past or potential relationships, the loss of childhood ignorance, and the loss of the life I'd so perfectly planned out in my head my entire life. So many different kinds of grief piling one on top of the other.
In the last month I've taken inventory of all of these losses and while I'm sad about losing all these things in my life and having to live without them doesn't necessarily make me happy, I was so confused to find that when I counted up and gave names to all this hurting in my life I still felt this deep sense of joy throughout all this grief. This might sound completely crazy, I know, but it's not really like the "Everything is going right in my life so I'm going to be joyful," type of joy or the "I just got a Moe's burrito, so I'm going to be joyful" kind of joy. This kind of joy isn't coming from within me, but rather the God that invented joy. The God who is the only source of real joy. Like capital J Joy
Multiple times this year I've found myself in a place of total devastation (with ugly crying and everything), but at the same time I feel a overflowing joy inside me that gives me hope and makes me want to do nothing else but fall to my knees and worship at His feet with a face cracking smile on my face. I think that's the game changer: Hope. The fact that I know that God has a plan and a purpose and an unspeakable love for me and everyone else in this world. The fact that He loves me so much and has it all handled gives me so much peace and hope about the situation that I can't help but be joyful.
Anybody who knows me will tell you how happy I am all the time and I can see why people say that. I'm a talker, I love being around other people, and I get excited over simple things. A trifecta of happiness. Only it isn't. I was talking with my roommates the other day about one of the bigger obstacles I've had to face in my life and amidst their pep talk they both told me "Abbie you're easily the happiest person I know." I realized in that moment that I wasn't happy, not even close. I told them haven't been a happy person for months. After a beat of silence one of them responded, "Okay, you may not be happy right now. That's okay. But you should never lose your sense of joy because your joy is from your hope in what God's love and plan for you."
The bumps and scrapes of my life and the grieving that comes as a result are chump change compared to what God has planned for me. Romans 8:18 says similarly,"The pain that you've been feeling can't compare to the joy thats coming." Let yourself grieve and be unhappy, even live in that state for a while if you need to, but remember that even though you may not be happy, you can always choose to be Joyful.