Does following God mean we put our happiness on the back burner? Does being a Christian mean we live a compromised life? Does it mean we have to set aside all of our hopes and dreams?
Those questions depend greatly on the source of our desires.
There are different ways to look at happiness. But there are only two sources. God gives us desires and talents, and Satan tempts us in an effort to make us fall. We all have our vices, those things that promise happiness and instant gratification but tempt us into doing something that goes against the life God intended for us to have.
Everyone is on their own pursuit of happiness. And many people go after whatever will make them happy in the short-term. Instead of thinking about the long-term effects, they go for instant gratification. Maybe they choose a well-paying job over one that they are passionate about. Or maybe they're in a rocky marriage and instead of sticking it out, they turn to others. Or maybe they seek happiness in a bottle.
If happiness is finding comfort in a bottle, or turning to another outside of marriage, or throwing colleagues under the bus in order to get ahead in a career, then following God will be very uncomfortable.
Being a Christian doesn't always mean comfort, at least not how man views comfort. But if we're following God and trusting in Him, we are able to feel a sense of peace and contentment. And to me, that is happiness. When we're done fighting, when we've laid all of our mistakes and failures at His feet, and when we invite Him into our lives, that's when we see breakthrough.
One of the really important things I've learned over the years is that I need to be content with where I am and keep working toward the things that I'm passionate about without getting caught up in the amount of progress I'm making. If I'm doing what I'm called to do, what I feel compelled to do, and when I give up the control and trust that God will provide, then things start to fall into place.
The hardest thing for me about being a Christian is letting God have the control. As a control freak, I like to have everything figured out and under control. But when I look back on my life, I realize that none of my own solutions worked. It certainly wasn't me who brought us back to Virginia. It wasn't me who gave me all of the freelance work I've had over the years. It wasn't me who got us into oil and gas so we could pay off our $150k of student loans so Harold could get back into flying. Neither of us had this grand scheme to pay off the debt and move back. We were just living day-by-day, trying to do what God was calling us to do. Thankfully, God had a plan and it was better than anything we could have come up with on our own.
Is it hard to let God lead? Heck yeah. Is it hard to trust and believe when naysayers come in all directions? Oh yeah. But I'm telling you, if you seek God first above all things, you will find the joy, peace, and comfort that you seek.