Have you ever had times where you caught yourself smiling and you have no clue why? What about when you were just in the throes of a brand new relationship and you were constantly giddy with excitement about seeing that person? Some people are blessed and fortunate enough to keep that feeling throughout their entire relationship while for others the smiles fade, the heartbreak sets in, and the reality becomes crystal clear. Relationships are not easy.
Relationships with anyone can cause a vortex of emotions to take us to the highest plateau or the very bottom of the sea. We can have a stellar relationship with one person while other people rub us the wrong way. We can have loving and complex relationships with those closest to us. As children, we learn to laugh, smile, and cry a lot. Many of us carry this into our adulthood. The only difference is that we are told to “fake it til we make it”. For some of us, this becomes a lifeline of how to get through the day because at night we go home and we cry ourselves to sleep because we don’t want the world to see the pain that we hold in our hearts.
My whole life I’ve heard the phrase to “give it to God.” If you are a believer like I am, then you know that sometimes this is not the easiest thing to do, especially if you are the type of person who likes to fix things. I can’t stand not being in control. I guess you could say I’m a little OCD in that department. Yet, I’ve had to learn that I can’t control diddly squat. And for a person with a personality like mine, that is a feeling that is both sickening and uplifting all at the same time.
Sometimes I have to remember that God is the one calling the shots. I said about three years ago that within two years I was going to foster a child. That didn’t happen. While I’ve come to terms with my own lack of family issues, I’ve had to remember that I’m part of a bigger family and that my tears and pain are not going unnoticed by God. There is a bigger plan and while I don’t have to like it because he hasn’t clued me in yet, I have to trust that there is a reason for everything. So I have learned to smile because I’ve realized that it’s okay to be weak. It’s okay to be angry. It’s even okay to grieve and not understand because throughout the tears there will be smiles, laughter, and even more cries. Some tears will be of happiness and others will be of sorrow. What is not okay is to think that you are the only one going through a season or a cycle that you don’t think anyone else could possibly understand.
Our society is really fickle. It is extremely emotional and opinionated. We take the position of the day without awareness of how we got to where we are. We don’t seem to care about history, just instant gratification. We talk out of both sides of our mouths. We say that we want equality but it’s really “what’s in it for me?” And yet we get angry over people fighting to bring out issues of inequality. We say that bullying isn’t okay and yet every single time someone posts something on social media, we see the name calling on every end. It doesn’t matter what side of the political spectrum you fall under, each group has representatives calling out one another. Both believe they have the answer and the other group should shut up and see it their way.
So let’s stop for a second and think about what we would do if God was calling all of us the same names that we are calling each other? I can pretty much guarantee that not one of us would get a “saint” name. Even people we perceive as “saints” God knows their secrets. Would we be laughing at one another at our own expense? Would we be okay if God were to call us bigots and racists and hypocrites? Keep in mind that many of us all have these traits. Even some of the most unbiased people I know have been confronted with instances where they were called names that weren’t true of their character but the perception was a reality.
Would you go home and cry over the behavior? And would it anger us enough to want to do something about it? As Christians, we have to take a really hard look in the mirror. We aren’t perfect. No one is. We feel things, we react and respond to both positive and negative comments, suggestions and ideas. We have to look at the bigger picture and see things as if we were already a part of God’s Kingdom. We talk about unity and being able to stand as United with one another. How can we do this if we shut out our brothers and sisters? We talk about growth and aren’t willing to take the steps necessary because we can’t afford it at this time. Yet we don’t want to change the way we do things. Then as we do change, we take for granted the folks who have been helping to pave a stronger path and we begin to alienate them. What would we do if God alienated all of us?
I can pretty much assure you that a lot of tears would be shed. God loves it when we are happy and he hurts when we hurt. Out of all the people in the world, he knows all of us. He knows when we are going to fake our smiles, he knows when things are going to make us laugh and he knows when we will have pools of water streaming from our eyes. There is nothing about each of us that God doesn’t already know. He even knows how many hairs we have on our body and even though we don’t know, he does. He knows how to touch us emotionally. He knows when to bring the right person into our lives and when to take them away. He knows all. Yet, through it all, he gives us the most precious gift – the gift of Love. Without love, we have no safety net. Without love, we won’t smile as much, or laugh, or cry. We would become more of a numb community. Without love, we wouldn’t understand what God sacrificed for all of us. By sending his Son, he gave us the most incredible gift that we could be given.
Let’s think about something else for a second. Let’s say that we are children. We’re playing in the playground and someone starts a fight. The initial reaction is to either go egg on the fight or break it up. Most of us would say break it up and offer assistance to the one that was getting their tail whooped but not everyone will say this. It’s never a good idea to start a fight or be in one but sometimes life doesn’t work the way we want it to. Gandhi wouldn’t fight back and because of this, he became a fighter for anti-bullying in many different ways. His strength became a role model for millions of people to see that fighting doesn’t have to occur with fists but rather with the mind. Gandhi shared many tears. But he was also able to share a lot of smiles and laughter throughout his life and gave wisdom to people who thought there were no other alternatives.
When we lose someone that we love whether it’s to a broken relationship or through death, the tears seem to flow without ceasing. Our hearts ache and quiver for the loss of that person in our lives. When I got my divorce, my heart was shattered. I trusted him completely and yet I would not have survived in that relationship. I was broken. I felt like a complete failure and a gigantic loser. I couldn’t give him a child and he was dealing with his own mental illness. My depression had kicked in and so had his. We were both miserable and we wouldn’t have been strong enough to beat the odds. I had turned to God and he shut the door. He claimed his faith was strong but we weren’t in it together. The relationship was filled with lies. I prayed every day but it soon became crystal clear that if I didn’t get out of the relationship, I wouldn’t be alive. I don’t condone divorce unless it’s the last option. I think sometimes that divorce is worse than death. At least with death, you have a sense of finality that with a divorce, you don’t always get. I cried almost every single night. My friends took me out a lot and helped me to laugh and smile through the pain. We would crack jokes, shoot some pool, talk for hours and just get it off our chests of things that bothered us.
I remember asking God why my heart had to break so much and I don’t know if it was really God answering in my heart or if it was what I wanted to hear but I could hear him say that “if you don’t have your heart completely broken, you won’t appreciate what you will have later.” Well, it’s been a while since the divorce and I’m finally beginning to understand why God had me wait. You can’t start anything fresh if you are constantly taking baggage with you. Sometimes you need to clear out the clutter emotionally and mentally before you can take the next journey and adventure you are sent on.
I’ve often said God has a sense of humor and I believe this because there are people in this world with the gift of making us laugh. Comedians have this skill that most of us wish we had. They are able to make us forget about our troubles and make us think about things in a different context. Some comedians are better than others. I loved Robin Williams. He could have me laughing at the drop of a coin. Robin dealt with his own issues. No one knew that damage he dealt with internally because he masked it with laughter. We can’t assume that just because someone is funny that they aren’t crying on the inside. But we can let them know that they make a difference in our lives.
I know God makes a difference for all of us. We may not see it because all we see is what’s in front of us. Look around you. Take a moment to digest what you see. We have so many moments that God is granting us and it’s just the beginning. Every day that we smile, we have an effect on someone else. Every time we make someone laugh we may be saving them from wallowing in self-pity. And every tear that is shed, well it never hurts to let that person cry on your shoulder. Who knows? You might be the one that needs to cry on a shoulder every once in a while. Throughout all of this, we have to remember to pray. God wants to be a part of our lives and he’s walking with us but he’s not going to invite himself into our lives. We have to do that and until we do invite him, it may feel like we’re alone even when we aren’t.
I hope each of you can laugh a lot, smile really big, and have the tears flow.