Who Calls You Happy?
by Kari Patterson
”Do you like it?” I pointed at the Anthro-inspired artwork I’d quilted out of old sweaters and looked at my friend, awaiting her response.
She shrugged her shoulders and looked at me. ”Do you like it?”
I stared back at her. What?
Did I like it?
The question took me back to 7th grade when I wore a rather unusual twirly skirt to school one day. My grandma had made it, and it was either stunning or horrid—I couldn’t decide. It would certainly take some work to pull it off. I went for it.
Of course it took all of two minutes for me to see the verdict on the faces of the girls at school. A glance down, eyebrows up, look back up at my face, smirk. It was dumb. My skirt had failed. I went home at lunch and changed my clothes.
Later that day a friend had chided me with wisdom beyond her twelve years: “Why’d you change? Don’t let what other people think make you change your clothes. If you like the skirt, wear it.”
Did I like the skirt?
Do I like the artwork?
Or are my opinions simply the sum total of others?
While I’ve grown out of that skirt, I haven’t grown out of my over-dependence on others’ opinions. And I know I’m not alone. We girls are notorious for this, aren’t we? We need fifteen friends’ opinions on a dress before we wear it, and our happiness can often be reduced down to the number of compliments we receive. Or, closer to home, the number of comments or subscribers or re-tweets we receive. Interestingly, the affirmation we most often pursue is not from our husbands.
It’s from other women.
And while perhaps our dependence on other women’s opinions and affirmation is harmless enough when it comes to skirts and art, too often it sinks down past the superficial and begins to take root in our hearts. The question haunts us:
Am I okay?
That same question haunted Rachel and Leah thousands of years ago. In Genesis 30, these two sisters are desperately and miserably competing for their husband’s love by seeing who could bear the most children. After taking drastic and demoralizing measures to win the race Leah announces,
“Happy am I! For women have called me happy.” (30:13)
Hmm. Happy am I. Why?
For women have called me happy.
Are you convinced? Neither am I. Picture the scene. Anxious and driven by insecurity and competition, Leah has just resorted to the unthinkable (giving her maidservant to sleep with her husband) just so she can win a miserable conception competition with her sister. Yet she insists that she is happy because other women have called her happy.
Modern day translation?
I’m okay because other women say I’m okay.
Dear sisters, that is not the truth.
You are not merely the sum total of other people’s opinions.
You are worth more than the number of compliments or re-tweets you receive.
Your skirt has value if you love to twirl in it.
Your artwork has value if you love rejoicing in it.
You have value because you are wonderfully made in the image of God.
You are not happy if women call you happy. And you are not worthless if women call you worthless. We will be called both at some point, and our defining moment is what we choose to believe.
Who we choose to believe.
When we only believe other women’s opinions, misery is ours. But when we believe God’s Word, we stand secure: “Whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he” (Prov. 16:20). That’s who calls you happy.
Go ahead. Twirl in your skirt. He calls you happy. You are His work of art.
How is God freeing you to throw off the crutch of affirmation-addiction and twirl in that skirt for His glory?