How I Found Happiness Amidst Struggle

If there’s one thing I learned in the difficult season my family recently went through, it’s that the key to happiness is not found in carefree, perfect days all strung together as far as the eye can see. That’s not reality. If we wait for the perfect string of days to be happy then we will never experience happiness or joy. Most often we don’t have even one carefree, perfect twenty-four hours. Worries for the future and haunts from the past creep into our minds stealing our joy even on an uneventful day.

I learned that an essential key to happiness and joy is to live in the moment; and the moment is a hard place to live. Our minds automatically worry about the future or feel haunted by regrets from the past. Our minds find it difficult to stay focused on what/who is in front of us.  

Throughout our difficult season God blessed me with times of joy and relief. But I learned in order to enjoy the moment I had to fully enter into it. If I didn’t fully enter into the moment, I missed it. I missed the shot of serotonin that would make my brain feel happy. I had to be fully present to experience the joy. If in one of these times of joy and relief I started to worry about our situation, I quickly spiraled down the dark hole of hopelessness. Suddenly I was no longer enjoying time with the Grands or the view from my porch swing on the deck. My worry transported me from joy in the gift God gave me into a future worry that might not happen.

Jesus taught this truth. In Matthew 6:25-34 He teaches about the futility of worry. He ends with, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Jesus knows the future. He knew His future and He knows ours. Still He tells us not to worry. The future is not ours to worry about. Worry will not help anything.

During this time God used a Hallmark movie to illustrate this truth to me. The name of the movie is A Christmas to Remember.

The movie’s premise is that a single woman loses her memory as a result of a car wreck near a tiny mountain town. She has no identification with her. A handsome widower and his three children rescue her. They welcome her into their home as the local authorities try to find out who she is and where she is from. As the week progresses the woman and the widower grow fonder of each other. One night the widower is talking to a close friend. He shares his fears that she will go back to her life and he will lose her. The friend gives great advice, “Be happy now. If she has to leave she has to leave, but be happy now.”

What wisdom! None of us has tomorrow or even the rest of today. But we do have a choice how we spend the minute we are in. This season has taught me to be more intentional about being happy now. No matter how dark the future seemed, no matter how many questions without answers I had, God gave me little gifts of joy. It was my decision whether or not to unwrap them and enjoy them. Doing so required I released my future worries into God’s care. Then I was able to be happy now with His gift—whether is was a quiet day at home, a phone call with one of our girls, or looking into the eyes of our Grands.

Whatever our future has for us Jesus is already there. He will give us what we need when we need it when we get there (another lesson God taught me).

Whatever your situation today, live in the moment. Know that God is with you in this moment. Talk to Him. Above all else, He is your gift in the moment.




Brenda Garrison is an author and speaker who empowers women with the confidence to live their calling. Brenda is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ministry Leadership with a Concentration in Women’s Ministry at Moody Bible Institute. She and her husband, Gene, are the parents of three young adult daughters and live near Metamora, IL.

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