It’s Ok to be Happy

June 25, 2014

I haven’t been very present here because I won’t fake it with you and it has felt just wrong to admit that the days since IF:Gathering have been dark, especially when I haven’t known why.

Let me go ahead and say it for you… because it always follows my vulnerable confession.

“Jennie, IF:Gathering is a tremendous success! What could be wrong?”

And for months I haven’t known.

The obvious culprits… there’s been a lot of hard work, spiritual attack so blatant at times I have laughed out loud at how obvious the devil can be, pressure to protect the purity of this “great work of God”, the chaos of all of work mixed with 4 kids growing up before our eyes.

But honestly most of these things were present and true before IF and I have adjusted to all the crazy. But what I have felt in the aftermath of IF was different.

Zac and I received an invitation from Bob Goff and Donald Miller to join a host of other creative leaders at Bob’s lodge in British Columbia. In Disney fashion, Bob builds magical places as close to heaven as earth could ever contain.

2014-06-05 16.19.21

I arrived stoic. Coming to any understanding about my unhappiness felt impossible and coming to some big emotional life change at an actual Young Life camp felt cliche. My highest hopes were to laugh and make some memories with Zac and my friends.

But here was the problem…

I was surrounded by a whole lot of happiness.


I should go ahead and mention I am intentionally using the word happy and not joy. Because joy is acceptable but happiness is one of those taboo words- selfish and shallow and for people who are not enlightened yet to what it really means to radically love Jesus.

For everyone who has never been to Bob’s Lodge it is difficult to put words to exactly what happens out there. So let me just share what God showed me….

I have been living a lot of my life FOR God instead of WITH GOD.  And that is a lot of pressure on a girl.

Because the truth is- God did this. And I could do everything right and IF falls down and I could do everything wrong and IF still stand. Because God holds this thing together and up. And I knew that but I forgot.

One of Zac’s and my new friends from the Lodge, named Paul said this to me,

“God could care less about successes, failures, visions, disappointments. He will use whatever means possible just to get to you, to be with YOU.”

Life had become so important and weighty I was missing the happiness in all of it.

God isn’t after perfect performances and great movements- He is after us. But that is what I feel today- happy.

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” -Tozer

Isn’t it true? Our view of God informs our thoughts and actions and relationships and emotions.

Indeed words fail when it comes to Bob Goff and that magical place but I can say one word that I think changes everything for everyone…

you see someone who is truly unashamedly purely happy. Bob enjoys God- he enjoys people- he enjoys life and it’s so dang contagious.


For so long I immaturely thought life was only about my comfort and my happiness. So as God moved me in deeper with Him- I saw rightly that life is really all about loving God and people wildly.

Happiness became wrong and suffering for God and people became right. But my understandings of life and God were like an overly weighty pendulum swinging dramatically from one conviction to the opposite.

That night, as near to heaven as I have ever felt, God whispered…

What if all you ever wanted, all the happy you have craved, just happens to be found in loving Me and people wildly. 

Of course that. Of course.

I knew it…. I just didn’t believe it. And it turns out there is a difference.

Life is hard but sometimes it’s not- be sure to enjoy it. It’s a good holy thing to be happy.

Are you happy? Do you enjoy God? Do you do things for Him or with Him? 


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48 Responses to “It’s Ok to be Happy”

  1. Thank you for this post- I can so relate and often feel I can’t be totally happy or scared that if I am something be will happen – but God wants us to have joy and happiness. How else can be display his glory if we are serious or depressed or anxious? This world has enough of that and living and enjoying life while keeping our focus on God is what’s its all about. And All about balance which is so hard for me but trying to learn :) just started the reckless study at my church and I’m so excited!!!

  2. This is beautiful.

    I just finished reading “anything.” To say I’m a bit wrecked is an understatement.

    I feel like you wrote that book just for me. Just for now.

    This feels crazy and out there, but I wanted to ask for you to pray for me and my family if you get a moment.

    Life in ministry is hard. And it’s even harder when you aren’t sure if where God is leading is where you had planned to go.

    Thank you for being used by our Jesus.

    If you’re ever bored in Seattle area and think to yourself, “a random coffee date with someone I don’t know that is trying to figure this whole thing out sounds nice . . .” Send me an email 😉

    But seriously, thank you for being brave.

  3. Thanks Jennie for your honesty and bravery, loving God and leading well is something I think we all struggle to balance because at the end of the day, we are still girls having a go for Jesus and that means hormones, emotions and life, and just when we think we have it in the bag it’s seems we are hit again. My prayers are with you from Australia as I think what you are doing is amazing and I pray you enjoy some happiness.

  4. Mary Buzzell

    This post made me so happy! Not because you have felt sad and dark, but because I crazy love God and I crazy love people. And that might be all I am supposed to do and He will do the rest. I make it so hard, when actually, it is so easy. I am just finishing your Restless study at my church (ninth week wrap up is this Wednesday). We were supposed to write you a “note” to send to you from our group. I wrote you a 2 and a half page typed letter. hahaha He has transformed me and your study helped me tie it all together. :-) God bless you! An Oregon fan!!!

  5. Oh Jennie…I can truly say I’m in one of the darkest and hardest time of my life after writing a book and trying to live my life for God. The spiritual attack is so pervasive. So transparent and yet so very real. And hard. This post makes so much sense to me that it kind of takes my breath away. I’ve been so unhappy and yet striving to be happy in every outward way because I love God! I know God and I believe IN God but I’m realizing that I don’t necessarily believe God. That His promises are true, for me. That all my striving will not accomplish His purpose in me or through me…but that I need to just be. To have the freedom to not be perfect or any “right” thing, but just to enjoy the journey and be happy for no other reason than because I have breath in my lungs. It’s all so complicated and yet so very simple. Thank you for this. It strikes me exactly where I am, this very season. Blessings to you.

  6. Wow! Sounds like you are learning unforced rhythms of grace!
    You get to be happy, and learn more about His abundant overflowing overwhelming love!
    Bless you for encouraging and sharing with others.