Be Happy vs. Be Holy


“My girls, volunteering at Harvest House, freshly brewed coffee brought to me by Erin, sitting with the puppy in the morning cuddling, church, and singing in the choir…” Anne Boulier

“Tea, fuzzy socks, candles, and getting silly & laughing with friends.” Jess May

“Petting the dogs, being with family, my regular customers at work, embroidery – because it’s a little taste of how God must have felt creating the world out of nothing, church…” Erin Boulier

“Singing/performing, the first sip of latte with the foam, and my dog – Gabby.” Jay Sticka

“Kongs, my people, napping, Kongs… Kongs…” Bandit, Daschund

“When Erin comes home from work & cuddles with me, and oh & carrots, lots of carrots.” Peppermint, Maltese

“Flowers – gardening, animals, cappuccino and baked goods.” Katie Spangler

Hap·py (adjective) feeling or showing pleasure or contentment

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the phrase “Do what makes you happy!” on notebooks, art décor, pens, and I could go on and on…

As someone who has struggled with depression, PTSD, and panic attacks – happiness can be hard to hold onto. It’s fleeting, temperamental, and seems most often an elusive feeling I can’t hold onto for long.

I remember when I was a teenager, struggling with depression and PTSD, a pastor in a sermon said to choose joy. Choose JOY?


My teenage-self felt I couldn’t choose anything – school, classes, going to church, and so much more of my life was chosen for me. Suddenly this old man was telling me to CHOOSE JOY… what does he know about my life? I’m young, life is hard, and my struggle was real.

Choosing joy in the midst of fighting parents
Having to choose joy with a father who told me daily he didn’t love me
Choose joy when my face was covered in acne and I felt ugly surrounded by all the popular kids
Choosing joy when I felt alone, unloved, and insecure

This pastor was out of his mind…

Then God taught me a lesson in my thirties that I wish I had learned A LONG TIME AGO

There is a difference between the words HAPPY and JOY

God doesn’t say BE HAPPY!

The Bible talks about JOY but the verse I found was not encouraging…

James 1:2-3 ESV
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

Umm… Lord, I don’t like where this is going…

Philippians 4:11-13 ESV
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Well, that’s better but it still talks about suffering…

Digging deeper, God showed me verse about HOLINESS

Ho·ly (adj) 1. Dedicated or consecrated to God or a religious purpose; sacred 2. (of a person) devoted to the service of God 3. Morally and spiritually excellent

Lord, that seems hard.

But still, God says… BE HOLY!

1 Peter 1: 13-16 MSG
So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn’t know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, “I am holy; you be holy.”


2 Timothy 1:9 ESV
Who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began…

Oh wait, that means that Holiness is given to us through acceptance of Christ which was set up before the world was even created… WOW

I get God calls us to holiness but how does that lead to CHOOSING JOY?

He says, SERVE ME IN HOLINESS. Choose peace, love, and truth.

Colossians 3:12 ESV
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.

happyProverbs 16:20 MSG
It pays to take life seriously; things work out when you trust in God.

Oh, trust…

Happiness is about feelings, fleeting moments when life is going the way I want, but JOY


JOY is about trusting God when circumstances basically suck

When the deadline is approaching and you’re nowhere near done,

Trusting when Valentine’s Day is approaching and you haven’t been on a date in over ten years

All of your friends are getting married and having babies and you’re waiting and waiting

When panic attacks are out of your control and you’re in the middle of a work day

Joy is about ALL OF IT and trusting God to keep you, love you, and keep working everything out for your good and God’s glory.

Things make you happy, God makes you holy.





And that allows you to DO WHAT MAKES GOD HAPPY


Until next time, may God’s grace surround you,


2 thoughts on “Be Happy vs. Be Holy”

  1. I love this so much! I’ve found that God has allowed me to find joy in the bleakest of circumstances … when my heart was broken and I certainly WAS NOT happy! But He still gave joy and peace. It’s amazing!

    1. Thank you Amy. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. It’s a hard lesson to learn – happiness vs joy. Thank goodness God teaches us this lesson. Praying you continue to find peace and joy.

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