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I Smile (even when it hurts)

Every day we are given so many blessings from God. We are so caught up in what we want instead of what we have, that we not only overlook these blessings, but we actually complain about what we have. I am guilty of this hypocrisy. It’s easy to feel sorry for myself, in fact society has made it the preferred method for people to get attention. More people pay attention to me when I am sad, hurt, struggling, sick, and complaining; they don’t just pay attention, they make me feel like they care, like they want to help; but the truth is that most people don't care. They want to hear a story to tell to others, one that makes them feel better. They want to be in the know, even if knowing doesn’t affect them in any way. When you are doing good, however, no one is asking how they can help, no one is going around telling the world about how great your life is going, in fact the better I seem to be doing, the more negativity I seem to feel sent my way. Like "doing well" in this life is somehow a blow to the rest of the world, like you must be better than them, and must feel superior to those struggling around you. The truth is though, that when I am doing good, I am counting every blessing I am given. No one knows my struggles but God, the smile on my face isn't because I don’t struggle, or hurt, or have bad vibes thrown my way. I smile because I know what God has given me; I smile because I know that God has a bigger plan for me. I smile because I know the hurt I have been through, but I came through it. I smile because I know what it feels like to think you have lost it all, but realized I was just finding it all. I smile because the job I hate, the house I despise, the drama society throws at me, they are all actually blessings. The job I may hate, would answer another person’s every prayer, if only they had a job to pay their bills, the house I despise keeps me warm at night and a roof over my children’s heads, even if it is only a shack, it’s not a cardboard box on the side of the road. The drama society throws at me, the negativity and the hate that others seem to chuck at me, I’m blessed. I’m blessed to be remembered enough to be talked about, to have people with so much hate in them that I can spread the good news to. I smile because no matter what I have been through, am going through, or will endure I know that it was God's will, and I will share that with the world. I smile because I know the shadows that scare me in the dark, are surrounded by his light. I smile because the pain that hurts so deep is the only reason I feel the love so strong. It’s hard to be thankful for the pains in this life, but if you never got burned would you flee from the flames? I rejoice in every tribulation I face for I know that God is with me giving me the tools and strength to grow in him. My tests have become testimonies, my pains have become scars of love and wisdom, my voice has become his. For all this I am thankful, and I smile. I have bent, I thought I was broken, but I was just being tested, he put me back together even better than I was before I broke.

Nothing throws someone into the arms of God like suffering. It’s easy to forget to praise him when life is just peachy. So he reminds us, we can’t do this alone. Every good parent disciplines their child, not because they want to, but because it is necessary in order to guide the child down the right path. Every decision we make has a consequence. We don’t always understand the choice we made that resulted in such a consequence, but there always is, and he will show us. This life is a test of our will, our patience, our faith, but mostly our ability to love unconditionally, without restraint, not only those who love us, but more importantly those who despise us.

I smile because I know that God made me worthy; worthy of his love, worthy of his forgiveness, worthy enough for his son to die for ME. I don’t need society to tell me that I am not worthy, because my father tells me I am. I don’t need any man woman or child, not my parents or my family, I don’t need my husband to tell me if I am worthy, for HE made me worthy. I walk into a store and see magazine covers telling women and children of all ages how they should look, act, talk, and try to please this world. But I don’t need a magazine, with fake people and pictures and "facts" to tell me who I should be, how I should act, or what I need to look like in order to be loved or worthy. I am beautiful because he made me that way. It’s easy for me to look at others and quickly judge. I can judge for their clothes, their house, their cars, or their attitudes. But none of that is my job, for they are also worthy. I can look at others and see the ONE offense they made that hurt me, but who am I to judge why they did what they did? I am here to help illuminate the beauty of this fallen world, what little is left of it. If I can’t forgive them, than who am I to deserve his forgiveness?

I wallowed in my pain and hurt, I judged, I complained, and I spread hurtful things about others who hurt me, but I never asked why. What was it that they were searching for? Was it that they wanted what I had? I have the unconditional love of an amazing man. I have beautiful children and a wonderful life, which we made together. Maybe they are broken; they haven’t seen the light yet. Why wouldn't they want what I have? Isn’t it what everyone is looking for? Isn’t love, laughter, and someone to share it with all we really want in this life? Is it their fault that what I had seemed to be the only vision of this life that seemed so unattainable? It’s not for me to determine why, it is for me to determine what now. I’ve determined that these trials we face aren't mistakes. They are awakenings to the power of love and forgiveness, it may have ignited in my life, and may have burned down my walls from the inside out, but now through the clearing I can see, this was a test, a testimony, and an open door for me to share what life is all about, that Love is truly worth it all, but more importantly, Love conquers all.

Love is the only answer. Life is so simple, we make it so hard. Just love and be loved, spread the love, and feel the love, and to those who are rejecting the love, or can’t seem to find it, it is through me, through us, and through our journey of love that we must show love to all those who can’t find it, for he promises that those who seek him, will find him, and what is God, but Love? I thought I knew what love was, how it felt, what it looked like. Then it all blew up in my face, not love, but the darkness; lust, envy, deceit. It wasn’t until I saw the dark, the disaster, till I picked up all the pieces of this shattered heart, and gave it to God that I first saw a glimpse of what love can do; what love does. And love truly has picked me up and carried me through the flames, and I came out with a smile on my face.

I choked on the smoke, I coughed and heaved and collapsed in the furnace, but I never lost the fight, because in those times that I was crawling under the smoke through the debris about to give up and pass out that he lifted me up and showed me where I was headed, but I had to walk through the valley of death, I had to face those fears that I had allowed to control my heart. It was because I had put more faith in my fear that I had to endure my worst nightmare. When I gave it to God my fears disappeared and my heart became whole again. It didn’t happen quickly, I had to endure a lot of inner turmoil, I have to daily face my fears and give them to God so I don’t let them take over my life again. As hard as it is to say, I am so thankful for the day I had to face my deepest fear. It was tough, hard, painful, and more draining and heart wrenching than anything I had ever endured before, but because of it and my faith in him, and Gods ability to glue us back together that I am the happiest woman I have ever been in my life. I can appreciate my husband, family, kids, and all the time we have together, this doesn’t mean I don’t struggle, that I don’t have to face the enemy daily, but God has made me aware of all the tools I had all along, and I know that no matter what that I always have him, so I will always have my needs met, beyond what this world can comprehend. I thank God that I wasn’t the one to make these mistakes, because I can forgive them; I couldn’t forgive myself if I had ever done the same. I thank god for the constant reminders of all the great things in my life. I thank god that I can give it all to him, the good the bad, and the ugly and he will make it new and give it back for me to use to honor him.

I find myself telling others about how they must forgive, that none of us are deserving of God’s forgiveness, so we need to forgive those who trespass against us. I thought that I had it figured out, I thought I had forgiven. Then I realized, I forgave those that I wanted to, those that I see on a regular basis, but I haven't forgiven those that truly need it, the ones that I truly felt wronged by. It’s not that I am angry, or even that I’m offended, but I am scared. And my fear is linked with my lack of complete forgiveness. I am scared to see these people, what if they don't accept my forgiveness? What if they don't even care? What if I pour my heart and soul out to offer up forgiveness to this person, to free myself of this pain and hurt, and am merely mocked and laughed at?

I know that this fear is holding me back, and that holds my family back from being able to enjoy and share memories together. It's put a wrinkle in time, a frozen stop that I was hoping to jump right over, but I realized I can’t jump over the flames; I have to tread through the fire. It’s always hard to face the flames, unsure of what may lurk on the other side, but until I jump I will remain in fear and fear is destructive to the heart, body, and soul. I vow to end my fear and put it all in trust. It’s time to move on, it’s time to get up and pick up all the pieces of this painful heart. I trust that he loves me. I trust that he will always choose me. I trust in God and I trust that he has a plan. I trust that he has lead me to this point and will continue to lead us through the flames. I trust that making this move to be in the presence of my fears will not only heal my remaining hurt, but heal a family that seemed to be falling apart. I trust that God will lead me through the pain and fear and show me the light through the flames. I don’t know what I will say when the day comes that I face each person who has wronged me. It’s easy to hide behind a computer and type away the words as they flow from my heart to my fingertips, but what would I say face to face with the people whom I blame for so much of my pain. I trust that God will give me the words to say to make this all okay.

February 2013

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