For years and years now, nearly everyone I've met always asks me the same question at some point: "How in the WORLD are you so happy all the time?" And even though I've heard it so many times, I am always caught off-guard by it. My very first thought, however, is always the same: "How are you not?"
To preface these next few lines, it is super important that I make one thing clear--I haven't always been the chipper girl that I am today. Although it's even hard for me to imagine not being joyful at this point in my life, I can still remember when I wasn't. I was a good pretender and I knew how to play the "my life is perfect" game, but I was a wreck inside. As a matter of fact, my favorite quote used to be "I want to be remembered as the girl who always smiles even when her heart is broken, and the one that could always brighten up your day even if she couldn't brighten her own." Sounds harmless, right? That's what I thought. Until I realized how weak and insignificant I really was in the grand scheme of things. And how hard it was to keep a smile on my face when it was the last thing I wanted to do.
Middle school is rough for everyone. I don't know if you remember your middle school days, but I definitely remember mine. Although they're not something that I would want to go through again, they were filled with lessons that have stuck with me ever since. The most important lesson? I can't do things on my own. Well, at least not if I want them to work out for the best. And I kid you not...the very second that I realized that, my entire world changed.
Since that day, curled up in a ball on the floor in my room bawling my eyes out, nothing has ever been the same. Nothing. My relationships changed. My attitude towards life changed. The way I carried myself changed. Even my interactions with complete strangers changed. And there's only one explanation for that: Jesus.
Happiness is fleeting. Moods go up and then they come down. Then there's joy. The kind that David refers to in Psalm 28:7 when he writes "My heart LEAPS for joy." What a beautiful picture.
What if that's how we lived our lives every day? What if our main goal was to be GLAD and JOYFUL because of who he is and what he's done? What if instead of merely surviving through each day, we really lived in the hope and joy and love that is found when we chase after his heart?
I absolutely love how Linda Child put it: "You find yourself refreshed in the presence of cheerful people. Why not make an honest effort to confer that pleasure on others? Half the battle is gained if you never allow yourself to say anything gloomy."
What if we lived each day to build each other up instead of tearing each other down? Or simply held our tongue when given the opportunity to say something mean or hurtful?
Or just smiled at someone? Not a forced grin. I'm talking about a huge smile that lets people count every tooth you have in your mouth. The kind that you couldn't cover up if you tried with all your might. The real ones. Those are my favorite.
So, to come full circle, here is my answer to that frequently asked question I referred to earlier: I have cares, and I have worries. And sometimes I get angry and overreact to things that happen to me. But my God is bigger than all of those things. And he has called me to live out Hebrews 12:2-3 every single day. Through good times and bad times. Even though my flesh wants the complete opposite. It's not always easy, but it's always worth it. And it pleases the man who died just so I could live.
Live a life of JOY. The kind that can't be explained using all the words in the world. The kind that changes your own life then uses you to change the lives of others. The joy given to us by the one who created it. And us. :)
"It’s your life, what you gonna do? The world is watching you. Every day the choices you make say what you are and who your heart beats for. It’s an open door. It’s your life." Francesca Battistelli