I Don’t Want You to Be Happy

Dear One,

You may not know this, but I stand at the window almost every day to watch you walk down the street from the bus stop. Of course, I do it to make sure you are safe but mostly, I do it so I can read your face and body language before you ever step foot in the house.

When you skip home with a lightness about you and a smile on your face, I know it’s been a good day. But when I notice, through windows and doors and walls, several hundred feet away, a sluggish stride, a frown and droopy eyes, I know we have work to do.

I’d like to say I wish everyday you’d come home with a spring in your step, but I don’t. You see, I understand that excitement is usually brought on by something temporary. A treat at the end of the school day, an exciting science lesson, the absence of homework. Those things may make you happy for a moment, but it doesn’t often last.

Oh, there’s nothing wrong with being happy. Happy is a good thing. But happy won’t get you through the hard days. And if there’s one thing I can promise you, it’s this – there will be hard days.

On its own, a happy day here and there is good. But what if I said you could experience a whole lot of happy days and even a little bit of happy, even in the midst of the bad ones?

That’s what it means to have joy. Joy is happiness felt deep within your soul, even when life isn’t going your way. Joy is what you feel when the circumstances and things that make you happy run out but the feeling doesn’t.

I don’t want you to just be happy, my love. I want you to have joy. Because a life of joy means you know how to be happy, no matter what. A life filled with joy knows how to make others feel happy and when someone feels happy one day and then another and then another, they’ll catch your joy and pass it on.

The Bible says,

“I have loved you even as the Father loved me. Remain in my love. . .I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow.” John 15:9,11 (NLT)

The secret to the happiest life that leads to overflowing joy is to stay connected to Jesus. His love gives us joy beyond anything we can ever imagine; joy we can abundantly share with others.

It’s just about time for me to welcome you home today. As I peer through the curtains and await your arrival, I pray I’ll see the light of Jesus’ love surround you and a contented smile that speaks volumes of the peace settling your heart.

Happy is a good thing. Silly is awesome. Fun is amazing. But true joy runs deeps and lasts a lifetime. My prayer for you, dear one, is that you would pursue happiness through Jesus, which will lead to a life of never-ending, God-sized joy.

Loving this joy-filled ride of life by your side,


Jess Wolstenholm, gatherandgrow.co | graceformoms.com

Help your kids stay connected to Jesus and enjoy happiness that leads to true, never-ending joy with Duck Commander Happy, Happy, Happy Stories for Kids from Korie Robertson and Chrys Howard. This book of delightful stories is full of happy – but the kind of truth-based happy that leads to real joy! (affiliate link)

Jess Wolstenholm is founder of Gather & Grow and the Bloomtown Faith Family Devotion Podcast. Jess became passionate about developing simple faith tools when she began to navigate the spiritual development of her own young children. She launched Gather & Grow following the loss of her mom to pancreatic cancer in 2012. Since, she's focused on continuing the legacy of faith started by her wonderfully imperfect parents. Author of The Pregnancy and Baby Companion books, Jess contributes articles and resources about family and faith to Tommy Nelson, JellyTelly and The Huffington Post. When she isn’t writing, you can find Jess teaching kids at her home church or taking notes for the school PTO. She lives outside Nashville, Tennessee with her amazing husband, Dave and their two miracles, Hope (9) and Joshua (6).