Sometimes I think I don’t know how to be happy. When anticipating something (like starting college, going to England), I don’t get excited. I just prepare and try not to expect too much. I don’t want to be disappointed, so I set expectations low. It’s mostly an unconscious decision and only recently have I started to regret that I don’t know how to feel the excited butterflies that others do. Instead, when something good happens, I feel butterflies of another sort. Nauseated would be a better word. My fears of vulnerability in a new situation and hesitation of setting expectations too high physically make me sick. Then I feel bad about feeling bad and the cycle perpetuates itself.
But I’ve learned that I can still feel happy. Even if my stomach says otherwise, my heart can be happy in knowing that a good thing is happening. In analyzing why I feel the way I do (cause I do tend to analyze and overthink), I can understand that I’m doing the right thing. Sometimes the right thing is uncomfortable. (Maybe most of the time the right thing is uncomfortable.)
I can be happy and worried. I can feel elated and sick. I can be at peace and uncomfortable.
I’m a history and genealogy buff. I’ve always loved tradition and have been proud of my family’s history. On my mom’s side, the Anabaptists that fled Alsace to Pennsylvania for religious freedom and continued the Mennonite/Brethren traditions right up to my mom’s generation. On my dad’s side, the French Huguenots that fled France and settled in Virginia, also seeking religious freedom. Long story short, I come from a long line of (persecuted) Protestants. And that’s why it feels so uncomfortable to reject that label. I can’t really consider myself Catholic yet or Orthodox or anything else, but I can’t go on considering myself any form of Protestant either. I’m still a Christian, just one in transition.
I know that personally my spiritual journey is taking its correct path. But thinking of leaving behind the traditions I know makes me feel vulnerable and uncomfortable and nauseated. I want to be happy but I feel happy and nervous and guilty all mixed up together instead. The guilt comes from worrying that I’m (or others will think I am) running out on a church or a family that’s been so good to me. But I’m not running away; I’m just running toward something else.
If I weren’t feeling miserable, I wouldn’t know how real or important this is to me. If I want something deeper or more challenging, I have to accept the pain. I have to ask for the pain. Once I do, the pain can produce happiness.