Del Williams


Choosing Peace Over Happiness

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When I was a little girl, I was watching “Captain Kangaroo” and a spot for an upcoming morning show talked about how you would be happier if you smiled more. I made a decision as a child to be happy at all times.

I went through my childhood far too serious than I ought to have been, but as the child of an alcoholic, and a mother who had been back and forth to prison, I felt I couldn’t be sad. I couldn’t be angry. I couldn’t even express my feelings without someone telling me they were wrong.
I had been abandoned when I was five days old, went from home to home, suffered abuse, and more by the time I was eight. To add to that, my parents were the mirror I was held up to. It was assumed I would end up like one or both of them. The feeling of rejection and abandonment led me to believe that I had to be perfect. I was not allowed to just be a child. I was the child was never supposed to amount to anything. But just as strong was the fighter in me. The fighter that wanted to prove them all wrong.

I failed this miserably for many years, because I had fallen into the trap of dwelling on my problems, or those of others. Sadly, in 1992 this burden led me to attempt to take my life. I felt like a failure because I dwelled on the things and people I had lost instead of what I had accomplished.

At 15 I left the familiar into the unknown. The decision to leave was tough, but I knew it was the only way that I could get out from under the “sentence” that had been passed onto me just because of who my parents were. Leaving was the main thing which did change my life from that of victim to victor.  I  put myself through college, Bible school, and received a Master’s Degree. Things few had ever told me I could do.

The thing which broke the cycle of feeling sorry for myself was a book by the late Debbie Ford, “The Dark Side of the Light Chaser.” Outside of the Bible, this book has had the most profound impact on my life.

Where previously I had felt that I needed to be perfect, and be happy all the time, I then realized that a full life has all the feelings and emotions. Situations could be bad, but it did not mean I had to lose my peace. I could weather whatever life threw at me.

Where I had gone wrong in my childhood promise was thinking I always had to be happy. Happiness is dependent on happenings. Peace, on the other hand, is internal and dependent on nothing. So, even if life threw a curveball, I could have the right feelings, but still be at peace.

There was nothing wrong with my childhood choice. In fact, it was sweet and sincere. The adult decision to be at peace regardless of circumstances comes from a different place. A place of strength and wisdom that life changes, and I have the choice on how I react to those changes. I choose peace.

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Wendy S said...

This is both beautifully written and beautifully transparent. I think your childhood choice to be happy was actually quite mature. It seems you realized at a young age that you were more than your circumstances, and choosing to be happy was perhaps the only tool at your disposal then. It served you well at the time. Yes, "happiness" is based on circumstances, but that peace -- that joy -- is a gift from God and it is there for the choosing. Your story is inspiring -- keep telling it!