Do I Deserve Happiness?
“I AM WORTHY OF ANYTHING THAT MAKES ME HAPPY BECAUSE EVERYBODY, INCLUDING ME, DESERVES TO BE HAPPY.”
I came across this affirmation the other day as I was looking for affirmations to add to my weekly modified “bullet journal” spread (you can see how I create a modified version of the bullet journal here). I almost passed by it, but paused because I was surprised by my reaction to the statement. I immediately recoiled from it and thought it was “bad” or “wrong.” Why would I have such a negative reaction to the idea that I deserve to be happy, or to the idea that I am worthy of anything that makes me happy? What in my world has taught me to believe that I’m not worthy and that I don’t deserve that?
Does Christianity Believe This?
Strangely (or not), I think it’s my upbringing in the Christian church. I think that there’s this idea that if you are a Christian, you should be wholely focused on studying the Bible and serving others, and that you must be serious. Sure, you should be joyful. But happiness? No, that’s not a holy thing. Somehow in Christianity there’s this idea that you have to be miserable or not happy, because otherwise you’re being selfish or setting other things before your service to God. There is this belief that life is struggle and pain and hardship. And this translates to a God who intends me to struggle and have pain and hardship. Woah! Where did that come from? I find this black hole opening under my feet, and I realize that I’ve already been falling. Good God, help! (?!)
And perhaps even beneath this ancient teaching, there is a deeper underlying belief to my thinking that says I don’t deserve to be happy, that life is struggle and pain and hardship. Yes, there is reality that life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. But if I don’t deserve happiness, do I deserve sorrow and unhappiness? That’s essentially what that I’m telling myself. And at the base of that, I find myself doubting that God is good and that He loves me. It always come back to this. Always. To the idea that I am not enough and not worthy. And that is the lie I keep buying into. Where does that idea come from?
I did some research. You really can ask Google anything, I guess. The overwhelming consensus is that this thought that I am not enough, not worthy, that I don’t deserve happiness, often comes from past trauma or experiences that led me to believe these things (see this article on Psychology Today). And there are things in my history that I can point to that I can immediately think of that probably planted these insidious seeds. I thought I’d dealt with them, that I’d forgiven myself and others, that I’d moved past them. Maybe not? Maybe they’re like onions. Or Shrek. Layers upon layers that need to be recognized and dealt with one-by-one. So, I’ll take another step on that path. I’ll speak against the lie that lies coiled deep inside, hiding like a snake waiting to strike, spreading its slow poison throughout my heart. It might take time to say that I deserve happiness. But I know that eventually I can believe it. I may have to say it and declare it over and over, but one day I’ll believe my words. And maybe then I won’t hesitate when I read affirmations like this.