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Marriage or Happiness?

(Thoughts on a thread of comments from social media earlier this year.)

Joy like breathing

He said, “Committing to joy is like breathing. You don’t have to think about it. Joy is easy. Commitment is hard. Commit to hard things.”

This viewpoint seems incredibly detached from a life lived in reality and truth. It comes across as untried and devoid of any emotional awareness.

After reading this comment, I spent most of the day thinking about the people and activities that have brought me joy and how difficult or illusive maintaining connection or a routine has been.

On a very basic level, nothing makes me as euphoric as a long bike ride with amazing scenery and long breaks to take it all in. Yet I haven’t been on my bike in nearly two years.

I call a nice hot sauna the joy of my life. Yet I’ve only been able to enjoy three sauna visits in the last five years.

These two relatively simple things are easily within my power, resources and ability to enjoy daily or at least as often as the thought crosses my mind, yet it’s been years since I’ve committed to making them part of my regular self-care routine. Why? Because commitment requires time. Commitment requires focus. It requires attention and intention. There is always something more urgent or important to do with my limited time and energy than cater to myself. Or so I keep telling myself.

I responded to a comment on a thread about a woman choosing to love herself over remaining in an unhappy marriage. Many of the commenters called the woman selfish. Nearly all of them scoffed at her happiness. Quite a few seemed to scream: Marriage is duty! Not happiness!

Quite frankly, I’m flabbergasted.

While it’s true I don’t know anyone who is happily married, I have always thought that carefully choosing a compatible partner could lead to a happy union. With this in mind, I commented, “Commitment should be rooted in things that bring joy. If you’re committing to a painful, distressing situation, that’s your prerogative, [but not] the purpose of marriage.”

Comments from the from the original Facebook post:

Marriage is not about self love. Marriage is a duty. It’s commitment. This is more that just about how you feel after reading, self-help books and doing yoga. Marriage requires obedience to your vowels [sic].

Found self love and destroyed her family.

Sorry I have to disagree, marriage is work and is a covenant and to simple say it’s about me and my happiness shows me she didn’t seek God first.

Unpopular opinion: Screaw [sic] your happiness when it breaks up your family. I didn’t’ hear anything about her husband cheating, beating, or talking down to her. It was all “my happiness” “self love” me” and “I”. this is a very selfish outlook. It’s an outlook that’s going to cause a lot of woman to grow old and die alone. Marriage is not about your happiness it’s about commitment. This annoying.

Bullshit. You decided to commit to someone and bring in life… then decide you needed to be happy? I hope she realizes how ridiculous she sounds.


thejuicypeach: those comments aren’t wrong through. Marriage is all those selfless things…. Which is why I’ll NEVER do it again. You’re literally supposed to put your commitment above everything including your happiness. Damn that.

HarvestPhoto [me]: Commitment should be rooted in things that bring joy. If you’re committing to a painful, distressing situation, that’s your prerogative, that [but not] the purpose of marriage.

thejuicypeach: The issue lies in the fact that you can only choose what YOU’RE rooted in. You can still fall victim to your partner choosing something or someone else. Then you’re stuck bc of some stupid vow you took. No thank you.

Harvest Photo: How are you stuck? Every day consists of choices. Choose different. Especially if your spouse isn’t choosing you or your relationship.

NothingToSeeHere2023: By definition, you don’t need commitment if the only thing you are committed to is your own happiness.

[….]You don’t need commitment if what you are committed to 1st and 2nd is your own happiness. Vows are made for difficult circumstance, not shit that’s already easy to do. Committing with the caveat of happiness being paramount at all time would be like me vowing to breathe.

HarvestPhoto: Read for understanding. You’re inserting a lot of things that weren’t said or implied. Joy is not easy to maintain, yet it can be a natural occurrence. If you want to commit to a difficult thing that bring you no joy, by all means do so., it’s your prerogative (as originally stated).   

What remains shocking about these comments is the idea that a woman’s joy or happiness in her marriage is a selfish nonstarter. How dare a woman seek to not be at war with her humanity and her choices? The fact that so many women commented with deep vitriolic disgust tells me that many are as deeply unhappy with their choices and partners than they want to admit. So unhappy, in fact, that they insist that those seeking to self-correct their course, forget about their own self-care and continue to suffer in silence for the sake of the “union” and children.

What union is their in discord. If two people are not content with one another, there is no way they are living in harmony. If there’s no harmony, how are they living as one? Do people still believe children don’t sense discord? That children aren’t affected by their parents’ unhappiness?

My parents never divorced but my dad was out of the house for the last eight years of my mother’s life (my pre-teen/teen years). He was abusive and I did not want a relationship with him. More importantly to me, I wanted my mother to have a man who was worthy of her goodness. I was her divorce advocate and her cheerleader when she expressed interest in suitors. My mother has been gone for nearly thirty years. I usually write a poem or journal to her on her birthday. This year’s piece wistfully wondered if she had ever found joy in life.

If you are unhappy, don’t allow your legacy to be overshadowed by your child’s sadness for your unlived life. No parent wants their child to be unhappy. Yet most fail to show happiness to their cHildreth.

Self-care is a beautiful practice that infiltrates the hearts and minds of children and improves their outlook and expectations.

One action changed my worldview

After years of witnessing my mom and an aunt get beat by their husbands; and of me being a victim of sexual violence by these same men, it took only one instance of witnessing another aunt call the police on her husband the first and only time he put his hands on her. She was in the wrong that day. She was yelling at him about something. She followed him from room to room twice over in the apartment. He kept saying OK, OK. He didn’t want to argue. Finally, he grabbed her by the shoulders, perhaps he shook her, and he said, “OK! Leave me alone!” That’s it. She called the police. They came. He was taken away, not charged, but he slept someplace else that night.

I was fourteen. That was the first time I saw a woman fully protect herself. No matter my opinion on the circumstances, my aunt became a superstar in my eyes. Their marriage didn’t last long. Because discord and she had no respect for him. Yet his gentleness and earnestness showed through in everything he did. Of all the uncles I have, he is the only one I called uncle.

This aunt is indeed very selfish. She thrives on conflict. And she pursues her pleasures above everything and everybody. She’s on her fifth marriage. She loves carnal love and wants nothing more than to be adored, but she’s not a good partner or supporter. Everyone she has ever loved has been scorched in some way, myself included. However, she is the most wonderful counterbalance to staying in a situation for the sake of someone else. Or staying for the idea of duty and marriage. I needed to see her in action. I needed to understand that the options in front of me are never everything I have access to.

In me, both sides of my family see this aunt and my mom. My mom was the caring strength of the family. She was the nurturer, the feeder, the gentle lover, and forgiver of everybody and everything. My aunt’s focus is solely to enjoy life on her terms. Now that she’s in her latter years, she may be hurt that her children and exes have grown and moved outside of her will, but that doesn’t stop her from looking for her next great adventure.

It may seem incongruous to have such disparate women as my life models. I admit it took years for me to accept their warring personalities within me. Fortunately, over time, I settled into my personalities as I learned more about my needs, wants, and goals. I’m okay with the way I share my gentler side and the way I erect and maintain my boundaries. I’m fine working to exhaustion then resting and pampering myself beyond any period of time folks deem reasonable.

We are so much more than what others would limit us to.

My aunt is content with who she is and has shared no regrets with me.

Even though I wonder if my mother experienced joy in her short hard life, she was clear about her priorities and what she wanted. She was intentional about doing what she had to do to get to her next level. And she knew I was rooting for her to enjoy all that she could.

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Devotional: A Lost Son Found

A Lost Son Found: Luke 19:1-10



[Zacchaeus] tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way. When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.” Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled. Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!” Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” (Luke 19:3-10)


Judging from the crowd’s reaction to him, Zacchaeus must have been a very crooked tax collector. But after he met Jesus, he realized that his life needed straightening out. By giving to the poor and making restitution—with generous interest—to those he had cheated, Zacchaeus demonstrated inward change by outward action. When Jesus said Zacchaeus was a son of Abraham and yet was lost, he must have shocked his hearers in at least two ways. They would not have liked to acknowledge that this unpopular tax collector was a fellow son of Abraham, and they would not have wished to admit that sons of Abraham could be lost. But a person is not saved by a good heritage nor condemned by a bad one; faith is more important than genealogy. Jesus still loves to bring the lost into his kingdom, no matter what their background or previous way of life. Through faith, the lost can be forgiven and made new.


Zacchaeus demonstrated faith by his actions. It is not enough to follow Jesus in your head or heart alone. You must show your faith by changed behavior. How has your faith resulted in action or changed priorities? What, if any, changes do you need to make?

Source: Life Application Daily Devotional, October 10, 2016

2016 © Tyndale House Publishers 351 Executive Drive • Carol Stream, Illinois 60188, US

TYNDALE and Tyndale’s quill logo are registered trademarks of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

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Devotional: Love as He Loves

Love as He Loves:  John 15:1-17



“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: Love each other.” (John 15:9-17)


When things are going well, we feel elated. When hardships come, we sink into depression. But true joy transcends the rolling waves of circumstance. Joy comes from a consistent relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus is the vine, and God is the gardener who cares for the branches to make them fruitful (John 15:1-2). The branches are all those who claim to be followers of Christ. The fruitful branches are true believers who by their living union with Christ produce much fruit. When our lives are intertwined with his, he will help us walk through adversity without sinking into debilitating lows and manage prosperity without moving into deceptive highs. The joy of living with Jesus Christ daily will keep us levelheaded, no matter how high or low our circumstances. Because Jesus Christ is Lord and master, he could call us servants; instead, he calls us friends. How comforting and reassuring to be chosen as a friend of Jesus. Because he is Lord and master, we owe him our unqualified obedience. Yet Jesus asks us to obey him because we love him.


We are to love each other as Jesus loved us. You may never have to die for someone, but there are other ways you can practice sacrificial love: listening, helping, encouraging, giving. Prayerfully consider someone who needs this kind of love today. Give all the love you can, and then try to give a little more.

Source: Life Application Devotional, October 24, 2016

2016 © Tyndale House Publishers 351 Executive Drive • Carol Stream, Illinois 60188, US

TYNDALE and Tyndale’s quill logo are registered trademarks of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

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Don’t lead with your pain.

There’s been an unconscious mantra making rounds in my head for the last few months. Don’t lead with your pain. Simple enough as thoughts go. A complex algorithm as far as implementation goes. No matter where I begin my life story, death has a starring role… or at least a pivotal one. I’ve always thought so anyway. In recent months, I’ve been trying to figure out how to tell my story differently. What do I begin with? How do I punctuate or embellish? How do I include others in my current narrative?

In January, my company moved to a new location. The office space was shuffled like musical chairs and I was eager to meet and get to know new people – people I hadn’t been sitting near for the last five years. I’ve been making my rounds in the new office – chatting, dining, walking and cycling with people. Getting to know them from where I am now. Repeating to myself all along, don’t lead with your pain. Don’t mention Mom (dead). Don’t mention siblings (dead, dead, in prison, drug addict). Don’t mention dad (dead). Don’t mention singleness (lonely). Don’t mention friends (deserters). Don’t mention hopes (disappointment). Don’t mention dreams (deferred). Don’t mention ambition (dust). Don’t mention life (pointless).

It doesn’t sound as if I’m left with much, but I give thanks as often as I remember for the measure of joy, and faith God has blessed me with. These two things keep me going. They keep me moving. They add purpose to my days, my years, my life. I love conversation. There’s no pleasure like eating a good meal with good company and good company is revealed through good conversation. Walking in the fresh air brings peace and serenity even if for only the duration of the walk. And cycling has become the joy of my life. In sharing these activities, I have lead with my joy – simple everyday joy-filled moments. I have opened myself to begin new narratives with each new person I engage with.

I’m coming to embrace the idea that my story doesn’t have to be about me, ergo my pain. Perhaps my story is the prologue to our story. Our individual stories flow into the multiplicity of us. How do we begin? Where to do we start? What are we leading with?

Just a thought, but everything begins with death, darkness, or a void.

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. {Genesis 1:1-2}

Be blessed as you go.


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ACAD – Praise: Psalm 66

How Awesome Are Your Deeds

To the choirmaster. A Song. A Psalm.

Shout for joy to God, all the earth;
    sing the glory of his name;
    give to him glorious praise!
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
    So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you.
All the earth worships you
    and sings praises to you;
    they sing praises to your name.” Selah

Come and see what God has done:
    he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.
He turned the sea into dry land;
    they passed through the river on foot.
There did we rejoice in him,
   who rules by his might forever,
whose eyes keep watch on the nations—
    let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah

Bless our God, O peoples;
    let the sound of his praise be heard,
who has kept our soul among the living
    and has not let our feet slip.
For you, O God, have tested us;
    you have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net;
    you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
you let men ride over our heads;
    we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.

I will come into your house with burnt offerings;
    I will perform my vows to you,
that which my lips uttered
    and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
I will offer to you burnt offerings of fattened animals,
    with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams;
I will make an offering of bulls and goats. Selah

Come and hear, all you who fear God,
    and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
I cried to him with my mouth,
    and high praise was on[a] my tongue.[b]
If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,
    the Lord would not have listened.
But truly God has listened;
    he has attended to the voice of my prayer.

Blessed be God,
    because he has not rejected my prayer
    or removed his steadfast love from me!


  1. Psalm 66:17 Hebrew under
  2. Psalm 66:17 Or and he was exalted with my tongue

English Standard Version (ESV)The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

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ACAD – Praise: Psalm 33

The Steadfast Love of the Lord

Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous!
    Praise befits the upright.
Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre;
    make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
Sing to him a new song;
    play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.

For the word of the Lord is upright,
    and all his work is done in faithfulness.
He loves righteousness and justice;
    the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
    and by the breath of his mouth all their host.
He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap;
    he puts the deeps in storehouses.

Let all the earth fear the Lord;
    let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!
For he spoke, and it came to be;
    he commanded, and it stood firm.

The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
    he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
    the plans of his heart to all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
    the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!

The Lord looks down from heaven;
    he sees all the children of man;
from where he sits enthroned he looks out
    on all the inhabitants of the earth,
he who fashions the hearts of them all
    and observes all their deeds.
The king is not saved by his great army;
    a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
    and by its great might it cannot rescue.

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
    on those who hope in his steadfast love,
that he may deliver their soul from death
    and keep them alive in famine.

Our soul waits for the Lord;
    he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him,
    because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
    even as we hope in you.

English Standard Version (ESV)The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

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ACAD – Praise: Psalm 30

Joy Comes with the Morning

A Psalm of David. A song at the dedication of the temple.

I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up
    and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
    and you have healed me.
O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol;
    you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.[a]

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints,
    and give thanks to his holy name.[b]
For his anger is but for a moment,
    and his favor is for a lifetime.[c]
Weeping may tarry for the night,
    but joy comes with the morning.

As for me, I said in my prosperity,
    “I shall never be moved.”
By your favor, O Lord,
    you made my mountain stand strong;
you hid your face;
    I was dismayed.

To you, O Lord, I cry,
    and to the Lord I plead for mercy:
“What profit is there in my death,[d]
    if I go down to the pit?[e]
Will the dust praise you?
    Will it tell of your faithfulness?
Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me!
    O Lord, be my helper!”

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
    you have loosed my sackcloth
    and clothed me with gladness,
that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
    O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!


  1. Psalm 30:3 Or to life, that I should not go down to the pit
  2. Psalm 30:4 Hebrew to the memorial of his holiness (see Exodus 3:15)
  3. Psalm 30:5 Or and in his favor is life
  4. Psalm 30:9 Hebrew in my blood
  5. Psalm 30:9 Or to corruption

English Standard Version (ESV)The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

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Blessings from Sin City: Day 1 & 2

I’m in Las Vegas for a week. A four-day weekend for a wedding turned into more in an effort to get more bang for that airline ticket price.

Getting here/there

Day 1 was a travel day. I went to work and ended up staying an hour longer than planned and two hours longer than I should have. I had two quick stops before getting home, then I had to finish packing and of course I had hoped to clean up my apartment so I could have a welcoming space to return to. Packing, unpacking and repacking took longer than expected. My dash around my apartment picking up and taking out trash didn’t result in cleanliness as much as relief that I discovered the bad smell developing in the kitchen.

The bus to the subway felt excruciatingly long for getting across five avenues. Four wrong trains came before I hopped on the fifth with a plan to connect to the correct one downtown. By the time the correct train got me to the airport, my plane was taking off, so I decided to take some pictures for the Photo Challenge, Week 20 (Landscape – Minimalist). Then I took the AirTran to the terminal. I was magnificently calm throughout my commute, even when I realized there was no way I was going to make my flight.

Initially there was sadness when I reflected that my missed plane was an inconvenience only to myself – no one waiting for my arrival. Then I realized that simply freed me of a sense of obligation and the anxiety that came with it. From that moment on, I decided to take my time. I would get to where I was going when I got there.

I was able to fly standby on the 9:30pm New York to Las Vegas flight, which got me to Vegas around 1:40am and in my hotel room around 2:30am. 5:30am New York time. I was exhausted – I hadn’t been able to sleep on the plane so I had been up and moving for nearly twenty-four hours.

You may be asking, “Where was the blessing in Day 1?”

During a stressful day (and period – did I mention my employment is up in the air?) and throughout a potentially stressful activity (commuting on public transit with luggage in NYC) I not only decided, but I was able to slow down to the present moment and look for opportunities to enjoy the setback. I ate the food I had picked up on my way home. Returned a phone call. I went to voice mail, but at least I returned the call. Then I walked around trying to take pictures of the scenery that would qualify as minimalist landscape. When I removed the anxiety, it wasn’t a bad delay.

It turned out that the best part of the trip was the wait.

Howard Beach subway stop, aka, JFK Airport

JFK Airport, Terminal 4, Gate 26

JFK Airport, Terminal 4, Gate 26

Entering Las Vegas
Entering Las Vegas

Maximizing my free day

Day 2 began with only four hours of sleep… UGH! Body clocks!… and the reminder that I could take my time. That worked well until I ran out of time! My first day of vacation was surprisingly busy prepping for a photo shoot. {New promo photos coming soon!} I was forty minutes late for my sunset shoot in Red Rock Canyon and became extremely anxious as I was losing sunlight, money and time… and perhaps the respect of a photographer I hadn’t yet met!  Oh, no! But again, no worries – the Fabulous Ms. Deidre Wilson ( was extremely gracious and accommodating. From what I previewed, she caught some great images.

The best part of the day was meeting someone who heard what I wanted and made it her business to deliver even more. I love that she made me laugh with the intent of capturing my laughter and joy on camera. We’ll see if it translates well….

May you be calm even when life is coming at you fast and may you learn to communicate with laughter and joy even through uncertainty.


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Note to self: Happiness, joy & contentment

Happiness, joy & contentment

We each own our own happiness.

My contentment is no one else’s responsibility.

My joy is mine to protect and nourish.

If we are incapable of reaching inward and embracing that which makes us happy, then perhaps we don’t deserve it. But if we find our joy, we should be diligent to pursue it, cultivate it and share it.

Photo source:
Photo source:

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Jesus’s purpose…

“…but I came to give life — life in all its fullness.”  ~ John 10:10, NCV

It’s not often that I get so riled that I allow myself to be dragged into another person’s pettiness. But this morning, that’s exactly what happened. My emotional reaction may be understandable to most people with the least amount of common sense and decency… at least I hope it is… even though that’s not really important.

I had to pull myself up short this morning, even as I was slipping into a rabbit hole of bickering with someone. Once I had a bit of vision beyond my red haze of rage and resentment, I gave the issue to God. “Father, take this! I’m breathing deep and I’m exhaling it all out of me. I don’t want this.”

The next thing I did was think about how well God has taken, and continues to take care of me. He has blessed me so much! My life is bursting with possibility, my heart is overflowing with hope, and my mind has expanded to horizons I had never even thought of. And I know there’s so much more to come!

Rage and Resentment were trying to box out my Joy.

Then John 10:10 came to mind. I initially thought the message was about the enemy’s purpose. A reminder that I should expect to be attacked by those who aren’t aware of their own blessings. But it wasn’t a reminder about the enemy’s purpose; it was a reminder about Jesus’s purpose!

Jesus Christ came to give me and you life. Not just any old kind of life. He came to give us LIFE IN ALL IT’S FULLNESS! 

When I reminded myself of God’s goodness to me, I also reminded myself my fullness. I don’t have any room for rage, resentment, pettiness, foolishness, envy, jealousy – all the animosity that was on offer to me this morning is nothing I chose to accept into my life.

Take time to truly thank God for all He has done for you. When you run out of breath, you’ll notice the arrows that were flung at you lay harmlessly on the ground.


Be joyous in all your blessings and you won’t have the time or energy to wallow in any of your sorrows!


Thief v Jesus purpose

Related posts:

Who Is This Jesus?

In Search of a Champion

How’s Your Heart?

My Greatest Enemy

Try showing up.