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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50 Responses to “It’s Ok to be Happy”

  1. Lynn ingram

    Gosh Jennie, I needed to read this. I know you posted it over 2 years ago, but it’s pertinent to me now.

    The belief that happiness is wrong because then we’re shallow — and that somehow everything should be hard and suffering…I easily get stuck there. I often feel guilty because of the good things, the blessings surrounding me and even feel guilty over experiencing God in my life. This past Thursday morning I listened to a talk Bob Goff gave recently at Willow. He’s just so happy. Loving the people around him truly and deeply. Loving God. Inviting others to do the same. How beautiful is not only Bobs joy but his happiness!! I’m so happy for you to have been surrounded by it personally and that God spoke to you so personally. The word that comes to mind is freedom!! Of course there are seasons where we are not genuinely happy, cannot be because there is too much pain in circumstances surrounding us. But then it’s okay and good to have happy seasons too. When I live a happy life, I live a free life. Free from guilt, shame, the bonds of sin and condemnation. I want to freely embrace loving God and loving people wildly. And be happy to be happy.

  2. “What if all you ever wanted, all the happy you have craved, just happens to be found in loving Me and people wildly.” You just hit the nail on the head…for this boils down to the greatest and second greatest commandment… to love God and to love others as ourselves. Oh if we could just love ourselves as well as we love others!