Perplexing Pleasantries

24 01 2007

Of all the many problematic questions we’re posed with on a daily basis, I’ve concluded “How are you?” is, by far, the most perplexing.  If it didn’t appear to mean “Are you happy?” as often, it might not be as challenging to sort through the files in my brain until I’ve located a both creative and honest reply. 

Part of the problem, is most of the time I feel numb; it’s as if I’m on autopilot.  At times, I can deal with life very factually, rather than being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the reality and the emotions, but I do have my moments.   

The reality is, most of the time I don’t know the answer to the simple question “How are you, Kelsey?”  Is the question how I’m choosing to deal with life, or how it’s affecting me simply by osmosis?  It seems to depend on who’s asking.    

Life has dealt my family and I — along with many other people living on this planet we call home — what can feel like an overwhelming, unfair and very crummy hand.  At times, I’d like to slam my cards down in frustration and defiance on the table and demand a redue.  Someone’s stacked the deck; I’m sure of it.  Circumstances can seem overwhelming, unfair, and nothing more than a great cosmic joke, but I’m playing my hand to the best of my abilities, and I’m surviving, learning and growing inspight of it.    

The notice sign on a tiny church I drove by read, “Happiness is based on circumstances.  Joy is based on Jesus.” 

Am I happy?  Sure, I can smile and laugh with the best of them, but happiness is not my state of being.  Of course, it’s something I enjoy while it lasts, but it comes and goes like any other emotion.  It can be based on something as trivial as what I had for breakfast and the weather forecast, and it fades just as easily from sight.  (Please see “Happiness vs. Joy.”)  

Happiness shouldn’t be a euphemism for joy, not when you’re talking about true biblical joy.  It seems like peace, hope and faith would be better linked with joy than happiness.  To equate joy with happiness is to say this joy — that’s supposed to be our strength — is nothing more than an emotional high.      

I don’t know that I’m happy at this very moment, but I have peace, because I have hope for a future, even if that isn’t in this lifetime, and I have faith that God is good, even when life seems to be screaming something completely contrary.  I have joy, but I don’t always feel happy.   

The asnwer to this perplexing pleasantiry of how I am, is that God is good, and because of this, as the old hymn says, it is well with my soul.  




4 responses

24 01 2007

Hi Kelsey
I know exactly what you are saying, at times it really does seem as if the deck of life is stacked against us. I could throw a lot of the standard sayings at you, with the intent of providing comfort. But we both know there are times when such sayings or useless, seem to have no meaning. You are in one of those times when life just sucks and anywhere and everywhere you look nothing seems to be getting any better. I have been there.

Kelsey, I can tell from your writings you are a strong young woman, stronger than I am sure you even feel at times. Be patient with yourself and those around you, turn to your faith. You will find joy and happiness in this life time

Thank you, Bill.

You don’t have to worry about saything anything grand. Just getting a comment shows care in and of itself. 🙂


25 01 2007

Anytime we rely on circumstances to do anything for us, we’ll find ourselves in BIG trouble. And I agree with what you’re saying, I would only add that, just as love is a decision we make, to be joyful is a decision as well. Like you said,” Joy is based on Jesus.”
They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; and they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Rev.12:11
His blessings this day.

It’s sad when people do rely on circumstances to do something for them; it doesn’t create a huge problem. Yes, joy is a choice, so unlike the happiness that comes from circumstances, we don’t have to be tossed about without any say in the matter.


25 01 2007
Mrs. Nicklebee

True joy almost seems paradoxical in practice doesn’t it, Kelsey? It’s a nice paradox, though, or as you say, a “perplexing pleasantry”. 🙂

Yes, joy does almost seem paradoxical when it comes to walking it out. It’s an amazing thing.


29 01 2007

I’ve felt over the years that the deck is stacked as well. My life has been full of too many lemons and I’m sick and tired of drinking lemonade.
IMHO, the single most important thing that has gotten me through is faith.
Somedays it’s hard to believe I still have it.
Wonderful post and one that I think I’ve written in my head.
Amen, kiddo.


I saw I t-shirt that said “When life hands you lemons squirt it in people’s eyes.” I have my doubts about it being the solution, but I lemonade does start to lose its appeal quickly.

Faith is what’s gotten me through, too. I don’t know what someone would do if they didn’t have something to hang onto, because even if it doesn’t provide answers, it can bring a sense of peace in the middle of this wild storm we call Life.


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