Being happy

The most memorable advice I've ever received about happiness came from an anonymous poster on a online photography forum.  Four years ago- after saving stacks of birthday, Christmas, and extra grocery money- I was ready to purchase my first (and current) DSLR camera. I had dreamed of this day for months- years actually- and now that it had arrived, I felt paralyzed by my choices. I knew so little about how to choose the right camera for me; what if I chose the wrong one?

In an effort to avoid that regret, I spent hours reading articles, watching review videos, and perusing photography forums. I quickly learned I was not alone in my fear of making the wrong camera choice. One poster voiced my exact concern when she posted something like:

Hi- I'm new to photography and am about to purchase my first camera. I've done a lot of research and have two top choices, but how do I decide between the two? I'm worried I'll regret my decision! What camera did you start out with and are you happy with your purchase? 

The responses she got were filled make, model, and lens recommendations, but among these expected answers was one response that has stayed with me for years. Someone wrote:

The best advice I can give you is to just pick one and then stop looking. Once you buy your camera, focus all your energy into learning how to use it and becoming a better photographer. If you keep looking at "better" cameras, you will be discontent. If you focus on the one in your hands, you will fall in love with it and the amazing images you can capture. 

"Pick one and then stop looking." "Focus on the one in your hands."

Doesn't this apply to so many other areas of our lives? From couches to spouses and wealth to health: it is excruciating how hard it is for us to be happy with what we have rather than envious and discontent. 

I have struggled with unhappiness because of my infertility over the last year. I don't feel guilty or ashamed of being unhappy both because I know those feelings are valid and also because I know I am free from condemnation in Christ. I am, however, convicted that I can't wallow in my discontent. I need to work through it and choose to be content in the life I've been given.

This week I received a stirring lesson in "focusing on the [life] in my own hands" when I set about to print and albumitize (new word) pictures I had taken over the year. I printed over 550 photos starting in last October, which incidentally was when I had my first IUI, and ending with a dozen prints from a trip we look to our friends' cabin over labor day, 4 short days ago.

You know what I  saw when I looked at my life?


I saw the three of us- Mama, Papa, and son- celebrating our one year anniversary since a Russian judge made us a family.

I saw my little boy picking out the wartiest pumpkin in the patch for the first time in his life.

I saw my family in Ontario, finally all together for Thanksgiving.

I saw the cutest little elephant you ever did see all dressed up for Halloween.

I saw joy on Christmas,

love on Valentine's Day,

celebration on Easter,

and sparklers on the Fourth of July.

We had fun in the snow...

... and in the sun.

I saw my long-awaited-child celebrated as we said goodbye to three and hello to age four.

I saw an abundance of treasured expeirences and memories made on our summer road trip.

And I saw the warmth of friends sharing tranquility in the woods.

As I slid the last photograph into its place in our album, I felt a certain bliss to realize how happy I've been this year. All of these experiences I see as gifts from the Giver of all good things. Why he blesses me so lavishly with these happinesses but does not end my infertility grief, I do not know. I simply know I've been happy. Sad, overwhelmed, grief-stricken, and anxious too, yet: happy.

This is not a paradox. This is the human experience.

There is no secret to avoiding pain. But I believe there are ways to find happiness even in the pain of life. One step is this: stop looking for it and focus on the gifts we already hold in our hands.


"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that." 
1 Timothy 6:6-8
"This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart."
Ecclesiastes 5:18-20


  1. Oh girl! This post made me cry such a mix of happy and sad tears. I understand exactly what you're saying and feel the same freedom and conviction in all of my emotions about our wonderful and amazing life coupled with our walk through infertility.

    Praying for you. xo

    1. <3 I'm comforted to know I'm not alone Courtney, even though it hurts to know you are on this awful infertility train too. Glad you are also experiencing happiness in the midst of the pain!

  2. Stephanie Pawloski9/04/2014

    Amen, Jill. Amen.

  3. Great post! I really wish we lived closer because everything you write speaks right to me and I feel like we're in such similar places! (Still trying and praying for a miracle genetic child after pursuing adoption for our first kiddo). Anyway, hugs to your family and what a blessing that photo book will be for years to come!! :-)

    1. There is so much in common on this journey and knowing that helps me feel less alone. Thank you for your comment! I pray we both receive our miracles! :-)

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Absolutely LOVE this post. L.O.V.E.

  6. Love this. Love it. Thank you Thank you Thank you.

    1. You are welcome and thank you for the encouragement Leanne!


I love reading your comments! Those left on posts older than 2 days will require moderation.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...