Physical, Mental, and Spiritual


I believe God has shown me a better understanding of what happiness is—or rather what it is not. I am not speaking of the happiness in the sense of momentary pleasure—that, to me, is easily defined. No, I am speaking of the happiness in the sense of a general state of mental being. That is, to have a healthy physiological state. However, I understand this general state is truly not possible—life has its hardship in every season, which takes the toll on the mind. To me, it is possible to maintain a healthy state of mental happiness despite troubling circumstances. Some may call the happiness I am speaking of joy. I would rather leave the term joy to the fulfillment of God from his revelation and love. Do misunderstand me, I believe that to truly live in this life one must see the Joy of the Lord. However, the happiness I am speaking of is more psychological or a form of social science. Again, however, I believe one should never fully separate our psychology from our spirituality (union with God)—His Word, after all, inspired this new definition of happiness of mine. One must know though, if we did not have a relationship with God (Imago Dei) then we would not know what any of these virtues/values were for God is the perfection of all virtues/values (and so much more). What I mean to say, if we were not made in the image of God then we would not know what happiness is for He is the truest sense of happiness—He is the clearest picture of happiness. We must have Him first in order to understand any second. I digress, and that is a whole other topic. So, the happiness I am speaking of has to do more with the health of the mind rather than our emotional state or even our spirituality despite how much they affect one another. The difference between the happiness I am speaking about and joy is, the happiness of the mental state is peace of mind and joy is peace of soul.

I had a bad philosophy on what happiness should look like. I believed happiness was wholly sacrificial. I use to believe that if everyone sacrificed his or her happiness for another then everyone would be happy—simply because everyone’s aiming at making another (individual or group) happy. In other words: if A solely acted to make B wholly happy and B solely acted to make A wholly happy—then all would be well and equal. I was shown this is not so. If everyone was sacrificial of their own happiness always just to make another smile then, actually, no one would be truly happy. Each person would be trying to supply another and become drained, without looking to themselves. As I know, no person can make another fully happy. To try and make someone else happy at the complete expense of one’s own happiness and other doing the very same, would be like two dead batteries trying to energize one another. One could ask the question though, “what if both parties find happiness in commonalities, what if they find happiness in the activity of serving one another?” I do not mean to address the fulfilling activities that do make us happy, but rather I am talking about the mental or physical act of completely allowing one’s happiness to be determined by another party’s level of happiness, whether individual or multiple. However, how can I argue “lay down your life for your brother.” or “deny yourself”? But one must also look to the second greatest commandment from Jesus’ mouth “love your neighbor as yourself.” So, I believe the burden of the argument lies more the one who says “you must sacrifice your happiness for others daily”.

I do full-heartedly believe one ought to act in a degree of healthy self-interest, as bad as that might sound. Let me redefine the word self-interest before anyone should come to judge what it may mean. To me, self-interest could somewhat be a synonym of self-love, which does not nearly sound as narcissistic or selfish. There is, however, a difference between the manipulated version of self-love and true/healthy self-love. First to identify the difference, one must know it is the degree of self-love or self-interest that matters most. If one has too much self-love then that is an overbearing narcissism and if one has too much self-interest then that it is pure selfishness. This, of course, can be applied to the most basic form of happiness—happiness from pleasure. If one enjoys wine or food but over consumes one, then we either have a drunkard or glutton. If one enjoys technology or the outdoors but gives no time for anything or anyone else, then we either have a shut-in or isolationist, both of which, to me at least, cannot do much good. It is all about the degree to which a person applies to that appetite or self-interest. Second, it also matters when and where is this degree of self-interest acted out. There are indeed situations I cannot deny that require self-sacrifice, from the simplest of examples, like giving food to another who lacks it, to the most dramatic, like sacrificing one’s life for the sake of another. However, I am speaking on a day to day basis of how one acts in accordance with their mental state—not situations which indeed require a sacrifice of pleasure or a mental state of happiness. One could ask, “But where can this theory of mental happiness be applied then?” Thirdly, if this theory of happiness can be applied anywhere, it can be applied in the state of romantic love for another.

If there is any reflection to be taken from this, it should be this—Jesus sacrificed all three happys for us when facing the cross. He obviously faced tremendous pain and unless he found some weird pleasure from that—which I am certain he did not—then one can surely say his happiness of pleasure was taken from him. Jesus also, and this may be hard to prove, also lost his mental state of happiness when faced with the burden of the cross. From his mouth, he said, “if it may be done, may this cup be taken from me...”. It may be said that his mental mind was preparing for the physical and mental toll. It was also said of him that Jesus wept bitterly in the garden of Gethsemane—so I am going to assume he was in a general sense of sadness. Therefore, I also believe I can conclude his mental state of happiness was diminished during the time of the crucifixion. His spirit, on the other hand, was preparing for the spiritual desert he was going to have to cross. But, before I move onto whether Jesus lost the third happiness, I must define it.

It is contradiction itself to have the third happiness be called a form of a happiness, for the third happiness does not have to do much with being happy. Joy is neither fully associated with or dependent upon happiness. One can be completely happy in Joyfulness. However, one does not need to be happy in order to be joyful. The word joyful belongs to more of a spiritual realm than either a psychological or physical dimension. The reason I came to this conclusion is mostly that of Paul and David. I look back to both of their lives to see this Joy. Do I believe David was prompted to dance and worship in the presence of the Lord regardless of his life circumstances because he was simply happy? Would a king be happy to lose his own kingdom? Would a father be happy when his own son is trying to kill him? —No. Do I believe Paul was happy when being persecuted for his faith? Do I believe he smiled with glee as he knew many Christians, including himself, would die for their faith in Christ Jesus? —No. I believe both of these men were tormented many times in their life and were deeply saddened by the storms. However, how is that David did worship and dance before the Lord during these times? How is that Paul praised God with his lips and prayers regardless of the death that was so clearly foreshadowed? It was not either a happiness of pleasure or some mental state of happiness that drew these men to peace. It was Joy. This Joy is beyond measure and brings peace regardless of any future, for this Joy comes from many things (all things from God), but one of those things is knowing that God has the past, present, and future in his hands. There is also the Joy of receiving the good news of the gospel—the good news of Christ. To have vicarious atonement, to have a redeemer who died on our behalf and rose again to right all wrongs once and for all, is, to me, the most beautiful truth. This is what brings me Joy. I believe this is what brought David and Paul Joy. Let me just say for a moment if God is Joy, and we can have a relationship with him, then getting closer to God would make one feel more joyful, correct? Then getting to know Jesus Christ, who is God, would bring Joy then. To me, Joy springs forth, or rather pours out, from God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

So, do I believe Joy was taken from Jesus during the crucifixion? Yes, to some degree. Do not misunderstand me when I say he had separation from the Joy, who I said was God was the spring of Joy, that I meant he was taken from the Trinity. No, to me, the Trinity has always been, being, and will be. What I am saying though is, Jesus was, when hanging on the cross for our sins, had the Joy of the Lord taken from him and sin come in its place. When he yelled “Father, Father why have you forsaken me?” this, to me, is his deepest depths crying out for the Joy that he had once held and sprung forth from the relationship between the Trinity. This was the of the Joy of Lord leaving Christ because of the sin that was placed on him. That is why this torment was so horrendous. God, our savior, our creator, most perfect, suffered many of the worst horrible tortures but to undergo the taking of the Joy of the Lord, that was once held in perfection, must have been more painful than any pain I or anyone could conjure. I would have to dive deeper into the relationship of the Trinity which I am currently unequipped to do so—so I will stop here.

Again, the main point to be taken from this is that Jesus suffered the taking of all three happys. We, as Christians, should reflect on this. We should understand, as much as we humanly can, the pain of Christ and therefore know the love he has for us. For why would a God come down and suffer under the hands that he had created? Why would he be slain for the sins of those who had rebelled against him since the beginning? What other reason should there be except love? This truth—this truth makes me pretty happy.

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17 Empowering Bible Verses For Women

You go, girl.

We all have those days where we let the negative thoughts that we're "not good enough," "not pretty enough" or "not smart enough" invade our minds. It's easy to lose hope in these situations and to feel like it would be easier to just give up. However, the Bible reminds us that these things that we tell ourselves are not true and it gives us the affirmations that we need. Let these verses give you the power and motivation that you're lacking.

1. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."

2. Psalm 46:5

"God is within her, she will not fall."

3. Luke 1:45

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."

4. Proverbs 31:17

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

5. Psalm 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield."

6. Proverbs 11:16

"A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth."

7. Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

8. Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

9. 1 Corinthians 15:10

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."

10. Proverbs 31:26

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

12. 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

13. Colossians 2:10

"And in Christ you have been brought to fullness."

14. 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

15. Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

16. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

17. Song of Songs 4:7

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way."

Next time you're feeling discouraged or weak, come back to these verses and use them to give you the strength and power that you need to conquer your battles.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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If God Didn’t Intend For Women To Be Equals, Why Did She Make Us So Incredible?

Yeah, I said She.


An article that absolutely infuriates me has gone viral. As a feminist, as a writer, and simply as a woman, it drives me up a wall to see another woman proclaiming that God's plan for women was to "submit to their husbands."

I don't know where to start with all the issues I found in reading the piece, so I'll start with what a feminist is. It's a subjective term and its connotation varies from person to person.

But to me, feminism is being empowered and expressive individuals with open minds and open hearts. They are activists for change and equality. They have concerns about the environment and global warming. They acknowledge issues within sexism and racism and then try to figure out how to solve them. They see that the world isn't perfect.

Feminists are the reason we can vote. They're the reason birth control is an option for us. They're why we're allowed to wear pants. They're why we have careers. The female pioneers paved the way for anything we're allowed to do, and they are why we celebrate the power of women every March.

But instead, the woman who wrote "I'm A Christian And I'm Not A Feminist, Because God Did Not Intend For Women To Be Equals," used our month of pride for clout. And took justification from The Bible to do it.

The Bible is not an instruction manual. It was written over many, many years by hordes of sexist men whose existence we have minimal proof of. And over the last thousand years, it's been translated and reinterpreted more times than anyone could ever keep track of. That's not to say it doesn't have some good lessons, but lessons are all they are.

Thinking your worth and capabilities were planned for you thousands of years in advance is ignorant. Religion and The Bible and God are as subjective as feminism. Everything is open-ended. One person's view of who or what God is not going to be the same as the last.

Commonly, God is seen as a man at the center of the universe who holds all existence in his hands. He is the reason why anyone does anything. He is the rule maker. And He is judging us and waiting for our every mistake.

But as a proud feminist, I've chosen to have my own idea of this holy being. I wasn't brought up in church, but I decided to believe in something much greater than myself or anything I've ever seen just because I wanted to. I want to believe that faith has to come from somewhere, and I didn't want a book making the rules for me.

Just by watching life move through time, I happen to believe God is the good in all of us. Not one being, but he beginning and the end of everything. The push and the pull. The conscious and subconscious. And considering that God is the creator, I've concluded God must be a woman because women are the creators.

And in my experience, women have proved themselves to be much stronger and more capable than any man.

As for what She creates, I think She makes no mistakes. I think She tests our patience and beliefs by giving us what we don't expect. There's intent and love in everything She gives us. I think every woman was made to be relentless, imperfect, fearless, and even a little rebellious.

And if we're saying Adam and Eve were the start of it all, then God proved that right off the bat. God saved the best for last, and then made her a badass. Yes, the first woman came into this world as a rule breaker. She questioned authority. And since the beginning of time, authority has been a snake. The world is our forbidden fruit to bite.

The sole purpose of a woman isn't to submit to anyone. A woman can do whatever she damn well pleases, just as any man. A woman's worth isn't tied to what kind of wife or mother she is and how closely she follows the rules. I was raised by the most incredible mom and wife. She did happen to stay at home with me and be the traditional woman. But while she was home, she taught me how great it is to be a woman. She made sure I knew I could be whoever I wanted and would pay no consequences for that.

My parents didn't raise me in a church. And I never saw that as a flaw or lack of judgment. My southern home was like a church; full of faith and love. But on Sundays, we would sleep in and have a big breakfast at noon because we had too much fun staying up late Saturday night dancing around our living room to music. Whitney Houston, Dolly Parton, Shania Twain, and Madonna led the choir — singing about independence and the power of being empowered as women.

As a feminist, I will not judge those who haven't accepted all the honors of being female. I can just tell everyone how wonderful it is to stand for something. I can set an example so that more women will go forward.

And despite what anyone thinks of feminism, there's nothing exclusive about it. Feminists don't think they're any better than men, they just want the chance to prove their capabilities. It's so much bigger than thinking men suck. The truth is, we should have men at our side, not in front of or behind us. And not for romantic partnerships, but as allies. The best men are feminists too. We can make this walk alone, but there's power in numbers and in diversity.

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