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Archives Searching for Happiness

By Kristina Dean
Staff Writer

Over the past ten years, I have been looking for happiness. Only – I didn’t know that I was looking. In a self-deceiving manner, my thoughts always seemed to be focused on the outcome instead of the reason. Maybe if I clean out the closet, I’ll be happy. Maybe if I’m more organized, I’ll be happy. Maybe if I begin a new health regimen, I’ll be happy. Maybe if I lose 10 pounds, I’ll be happy. Maybe a new outfit will make me happy. Maybe if I read a book about being happy, I’ll be happy. Maybe if I was the perfect mom, I’ll be happy. Happiness is so elusive.None of these things worked. None gave me satisfaction. The tricky part of the equation is that I wasn’t aware that whatever I was doing or trying would only make me temporarily happy. And – that kind of happiness isn’t REALLY being happy. It was a small satisfaction which usually skittered away quickly like a mouse down a hole.

I was looking for something to consume me. So often we look for something to fill the emptiness. As I turned the corner of 40, I decided, seemingly on a whim (but really led by the Holy Spirit), I began to read more about my faith. I heard about a women’s group which I believed at the time to be like a Bible study group. At the first information meeting, I was told that there would be reading and work in a textbook. It sounded like homework. How I would find the time between working full time as a teacher and taking care of my three young children? I also was worried about over committing. I didn’t want my family to suffer because I’d taken on too much. Plus we’d signed up two of my sons for swimming lessons on Thursday nights, the same night as the group. So, I went home and prayed. I put it in God’s hands and asked Him to figure out a way for me, if it was His will.
It was during a conversation with a coworker - again seemingly on a whim - when I disclosed my problem. She became very interested in the group and offered her daughter as a babysitter for my youngest so my husband could take the two older boys to swimming. Everything just fell into place.

We joined the Evans Mills Women of Grace in September 2010 as a result. It seems so long ago. We began learning about our role as women in the church. Ladies - we have a role! We have a mission, as women of the church. We also have Mary, our role model. I began to understand more of what it means to say "yes" to Mary. We, as a group, began to loosen up, to discuss our opinions - to listen to our wonderful facilitators, Mary Dillenback and Meg Ringer - God Bless them!

What they taught us is beautiful. We are valued, we have a place. We are loved. We are not second best. We are holy. We are daughters of the Lord. We need to hold our heads up. We need to know that even at our worst moments, our moments of greatest sin, God is full of love for His daughters.

Women of Grace became a trusted, valued place full of sisters that would listen to me and encourage me as I learned more and more of who I was meant to be. One of the most surprising things to me was the affirmation that I received. So many times I’ve been on the right track intuitively. I just needed a little bit of hope and encouragement.

The ladies around the table are my place of safety. Although we are all in different places in our faith, we help each other grow. Mary works through each of us, through each of us to bring us closer to Christ. And I discovered that one thing that makes me truly happy is prayer. During our unit of study on prayer, I found that I’ve been mistaken in so many ways about praying. Prayer can be one little quiet moment, or an hour on my knees saying the Rosary. When I pray for other people, I feel its transformative effect. I am a prayer warrior - a conduit of grace for others. This is my mission. This is who I am. This is what Women of Grace made me realize. Happiness doesn’t lie in making myself happy. It lies in making others happy.

Women of Grace have an upcoming retreat coming in April with a special guest who will be speaking, the ministry’s founder, Johnette Benkovic. I am tremendously excited to see how this time will bring healing and further graces into my life. I look forward to meeting more of my sisters in Christ.

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