Reflecting this morning on how I have dealt with some terrible stuff in my life. I’ve worked through health issues that have phased in and out since the day I was born. I have even dealt with people whose only agenda was to exploit my kindness, prey on my weaknesses, and hurt whoever they could because they themselves had been hurt in the past. I can truly understand the author who penned the quote:
“The prettiest smiles hide the deepest secrets. The prettiest eyes have cried the most tears and the kindest hearts have felt the most pain.” – Unknown
You can’t always look at a person’s life from outside of the bubble and think you know them. The people who you fantasize have the greatest and happiest lives often have to fight daily to grasp onto whatever happiness they can find. Bad things happen to people every second of every day – the person you become the day after depends on how you react to it. Living the life I have so far and experiencing all that I have experienced, I can honestly say that I (by the world’s and society’s standards) have no reason to smile…but I still smile. And the reason I put a smile on each day is because I choose to. I have JOY which is different from HAPPINESS because unlike happiness, JOY is something that is gifted to me by God. It won’t waiver and it doesn’t disappear just because I encounter an obstacle. JOY is reminding myself that though things today may not be going so hot, there is always tomorrow to get it right. JOY is saying “Hey, if God brought me out before, He clearly can do it again.” JOY is reflecting on how thought I may have to deal with health issues that the average person may not, there are PLENTY of issues I DON’T have to deal with and that’s enough to be grateful.
Too many people, especially Christians, get captivated by happenstance and neglect the joy that is planted deep within every human being. If you grew up in an abusive household where you were told you weren’t going to be anything; you have the power to hold on to the joy (while it may be small) deep down inside of you and change your mindset and eventually your reality. Yes, your happiness may be diminished and shoot, may even be non existent; but the knowledge that how your grew up doesn’t have to be your reality forever can be the spark to keep your joy pumping. Maybe a teacher has told you that you are somebody and that you are needed in this world. Hold on to that memory! Let it feed your joy! Maybe you have been raped or have contracted HIV/AIDS from an unfaithful partner; how you react to that situation can either better or destroy your life. Going back to the quote mentioned above…you are going to have to cry, you are going to feel betrayed, dirtied, shamed, and abused – but after awhile, you need to latch onto the joy deep down in the depths of your heart and remind yourself that you are still alive and that you can get through this sane and in tact. Speak healing over your life physically, emotionally, and mentally. Tell yourself even though you are dealing with what you are dealing with because of a bad position you may (or may not) have put yourself in, to remember that at the end of the day IT ISN’T YOUR FAULT. No one stands in the middle of the street and hopes to be raped. No one enters into a monogamous relationship with the hopes that their significant other cheats on them. You did not rape yourself. You did not take a vile and infect yourself with HIV/AIDS. Though your happiness may be gone, your joy is still there waiting for you to grab on tight!
Joy is what can get you through the worst-of-the-worst of times, but YOU have to be the one to accept it, nourish it, and fasten tightly to it. Though I personally haven’t experienced any of the example scenarios I referenced above, I have STILL fought through SO much more! Proof that even if you grow up with loving parents and a pretty decent background, bad things can still happen to you. But when they happen, don’t react in fear, defeat, and chaos; respond with faith, confidence, and joy.