The Not So Happy Christian

I saw a guy skipping down the street with a lawn hedger.  He appeared to be a gardener –the happiest stinking gardener I’ve ever seen.  And I got a little jealous because I want to be that guy.

I want to skip down the street with a carefree heart.  I want to whistle while I work –even when I’m laying down stinky fertilizer.   I want to be the happy-go-lucky person who loves their life and smiles even when they get half their teeth get knocked out.

And normally I am –except for when I’m not, which has been the case for the last few weeks, because I don’t do grief well. 

Although I’m not sure who does? 

Some people look so pretty when they cry.  I just feel awkward and snotty and out of control.  Generally I allow myself to cry at chick flicks and Hallmark movies.  I get out the pent-up emotions and move on.  It’s a safe place for a control freak like me to emote.

But grief has a mind of its own.  It’s spontaneous and messy.  Grief cries at Target and chokes you up two minutes before you are supposed to go on to speak at in front of a large crowd.  Grief is never convenient.

But it does force me to my knees.  I imagine that’s the whole point.

As a Christian I want to take adversity in stride.  I want to put on my shield of armor and launch fiery darts back at the enemy. 

But this week my return volley looks more like hot tears.

Without giving away painful details, my family (parents) is enduring unimaginable and excruciating circumstances. 

I keep thinking, “couldn’t we space out the yucky stuff better God?  Does it all have to hit at once?” 

Job probably felt that way.  So did Abraham when he took up his son Isaac to the mountain without a lamb.

I don’t remember anywhere in scripture where the Bible hero’s acted like “happy Christians” in the midst of suffering.  Paul talked about joy in the midst of suffering but he never said do the “image management game.” 

Joy is different from happiness but I think we confuse them all too often.

Jesus asked his friends to pray for him.  He didn’t put on a big cheesy smile and pretend terrible circumstances were a breeze.  He didn’t skip to the cross.  But I imagine he had the joy of knowing what his sacrifice meant to humanity tucked deep within his heart.

I wonder why we put the pressure of “being happy” on ourselves.

I know I do.  I want to be the happy gardener skipping down the street all too often forgetting that some days the happy landscape artist probably drags his lawn mower around with a frown and kicks dandelions. 

I fail to remember that not all days are Facebook worthy and not every moment is Tweetable. 

I really want to be able to say. “I’m ok and there’s a reason for everything and praise the Lord.”

But the truth is sin sucks and my heart is shattered for my family.  It’s complicated and not pretty and some evil is just too ugly to mention. 

I am not happy.  My smile is weak and forced.  My insides are churning. 

I can only pray to a sovereign God who sees and knows all.  And I can cling to the joy of Christ which remains when happiness is marred by sorrow. 

So, my friends will you please pray for my family –the desperate kind of prayers that bring about miracles.  And thanks in advance for letting me be vague. 

Do you ever feel pressured to put on the happy Christian face?

Photo Source: via Petra on Pinterest


  1. maryJean says:

    I really love your candidness (is that a word?) I have processed the difference between happiness and joy a lot in the past 2 years. I think there is a big difference too. I think we, as
    Christians need to be authentic with each other. My experience has been when Christian women
    get together masks go up and we pretend we are something we are not the other 99.9% of the

    • Yep you are right. We are a culture of avoiding pain and that includes the art of grieving with people or just letting them be real in their emotions. We cover up and then secretly cope. I do love having friends I can just be myself with. I don’t play the perfect churchy game too well -even though I am a pastor’s wife and can do the smiley thing well. The truth is, we all value authenticity but it’s hard to live out loud. Here’s to true joy and happy as it comes and goes 🙂
      Thank you!!!!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: