Chapters 13 & 14
I’m a child of the 80s, and I grew up in the pop-saturated concrete jungle of Manila, Philippines. No one could escape the Backstreet Boys, N’Sync, Hanson, Take That, Five, and all manner of one-hit-wonders. This was the soundtrack of my youth.
Fast forward 15 years and the Backstreet Boys’ reunion tour through Europe played a show in Geneva, Switzerland, where I was living in 2012. I wanted to see it but couldn’t find anyone to go with me. My husband, who witnessed me sobbing in our living room on the morning of the concert, grudgingly volunteered (boy bands aren’t his favorite). His kindness made the whole thing worse.
The tears were not about a few hours in an arena. I was crying because I missed my girlfriends.
“If only I had friends in Geneva, if only we lived somewhere else” were words that rattled around daily in my brain. I was there for the foreseeable future, married to the man I love and parenting a beautiful baby boy, but doing all these things in the first 24 months of an international move to a new country. I was lonely, confused, and unhappy (and tired).
I bought into the two happiness hackers: My circumstances make happiness an impossible dream, and If only I had . . . (my friends around me), I would be happier.
Happiness was something that happened to me based on my external circumstances; it was out there.
But on that Thursday evening in May, I decided to go to the concert alone. I spent the evening listening to melodic tunes sung by middle-aged men. I sang along, I laughed, I rolled my eyes, I had a great time. But it wasn’t because of the music or the Backstreet Boys. I fought for my happiness that day. I didn’t need to whine at home about not having friends, I could go out and do something about it. I could unlock something inside of me, and let out the happiness I longed for.
Geneva ended up being a season that was something like a wilderness — dry, lonely, and difficult — but what I see now when I look back is the quiet rope of happiness left there by God. I grabbed on one choice at a time, one day at a time, one step at a time. I reached out to women in my prenatal class and made life-long friendships. I stayed awake to the gifts God gave me daily — sunrises over the snow-capped Jura mountains, my baby’s long brown lashes, speaking in my broken French and discovering, as Jennifer writes, “My gratitude for what I have causes me to be happy.”
And day after day I held on to that rope, kept putting up my dukes and practicing gratitude, and found myself walking out of the wilderness.
For Thursday, read Chapter 15 and come back to join us for our wrap up (and a free gift!).
Head over here to join the conversation! How can you fight for happiness on a hard day — or during a hard season? Or does that seem unrealistic to you right now?
Devi Duerrmeier is a writer, thinker, and cook. She lives in Melbourne, Australia where she writes about food, family, and faith at the table at mydailybreadandbutter.com. Meet Devi at her blog or at Instagram and Twitter @deviduerrmeier.Leave a Comment
Aaahhh!!! You have put into words my feelings exactly during our time in London. I was mad at myself for being ungrateful when there was so much to be grateful for but yet I couldn’t help bit feel alone and annoyed. Luckily I grew up ;)) Thank you for this.
You’re welcome, Alleta. There is something about being overseas that pushes us in ways we did not expect. Here’s to growing up :).
Michele Morin says
I admire your perseverance! Thanks for sharing your pathway toward the light of gratitude. Sometimes it’s just a gritty fight!
Yes, Michelle, I do think we have to fight for happiness (and sanity). Thanks for commenting.
Pearl @ Look Up Sometimes says
Devi, this is a beautiful illustration. It reminds me of the serenity prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.” Way to have courage after being given that wisdom! Hopefully, I’ll be following along somewhere behind you! Thank you.
Thank you, Pearl. I love the serenity prayer, and pray it frequently in the mornings. My favourite line is “taking as Jesus did this world as it is, not as I would have it.”
Fighting for happiness here too friend as I “mourn” yet another event I don’t get to participate in. I’m in a season where it’s just me with the children all day every day. How I’d just love to do something I want to do for me (you catch all that I & ME in there). But pressing forward to glory in him and give thanks for what I do have.
Tyra, I have been there (am there!) – these years with little ones seem to slow my life right down to only dishes, diapers and bedtimes while everyone else’s life speeds by. I’m trusting that in time this stage of life will make more sense, believing that for you as well.
April Knapp says
I wished I lived in Switzerland-I would have gone with you!!! Beautiful post. I often feel lonely, so this resonated with me.
Haha, thanks April! It would have been fun. I’m sorry about the loneliness, praying that God will ease it today.
Beth B says
I often feel lonely as well, but then I remember my best and unfailing friend, and how He is always there for me. It’s a beautiful thing to turn to Him with my troubles, pains and worries and know that He always understands- He just gets me.
So true – he is our friend and he never leaves.
Thank you! I can relate to those feelings and am learning to fight to be grateful in a major trial. I appreciate your encouragement!
You’re welcome, Kristin. So glad it blessed you.
Beth Williams says
I no longer work outside the home. Sometimes I get lonely for girl time. Just doing things with someone else. When I get lonely/tired I feel unhappy and unloved. ‘By practicing gratitude, I found myself walking out of the wilderness.’ That is so true. When feeling down I make a list of ALL the blessings God has bestowed upon me & realize how blessed I am. That seems to perk me up!
I’m at home with small kids, Beth, and it is not easy for me either. I really think it’s one day at a time, and it has been good to see that the doorway into the future was opened by having them.. I so struggle with the lack of time though :). Blessings to you. Thanks for sharing.
Beth Williams says
I’m glad you are able to stay at home with your children. This is an important time to share with them & soon enough they will be out of the nest. Time can be an issue.
I quit my job to be more available for my aging dad. He had multiple medical issues this past year, but is more settled now. I do go & visit him at the assisted living about 4 or so days a week. We go for short walks. He turned 91 on 9/10/16. I know he won’t be around forever & I cherish this time with him!
Lisa Appelo says
“Geneva ended up being a season that was something like a wilderness — dry, lonely, and difficult — but what I see now when I look back is the quiet rope of happiness left there by God. I grabbed on one choice at a time, one day at a time, one step at a time.” Devi — that statement absolutely sums up a dry period I had as well. It was a God-ordained move and I knew it, but the loneliness was real. Loved your words today!
Hi Lisa, yes those appointed wilderness seasons are tough, it’s such a relief to know we aren’t the only ones who go through them. Thanks for sharing.
I’ve loved you since you were a little girl but this article makes me love you more❤️
Awww… thank you – that means so much, Aunt Shirley.
Oh Devi, I thank the Lord for this beautiful example of perseverance. There are some days where fighting for joy/happiness is tough. Those are the days I pray to rest in Jesus, for His help climbing the mountain. The Holy Spirit led me to Colossians 1:11-12 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. What a beautiful scripture when I feel tired, seeking Him in the messes of some days. May we all give such glorious praise to the One who empowers us with His love and joy, rejoicing in hope, giving thanks in all circumstances 🙂
I’m so sorry you had a season that was dry, lonely, and difficult, Devi. I love how you fought for happiness. This line really inspires me – “I grabbed on one choice at a time, one day at a time, one step at a time.” Thank you for your encouragement!
Ann Clipperton says
Devi, This is beautiful. Thanks for your honesty and for the reminder. I’ve been challenged lately to write more consistent gratitudes. This may be the impetus for me to get started tonight :). Important words.
So thankful for this right now. Just finished reading and often feel like this in our “new” (moved about a year ago) city. Great encouragement!! Thank you!