This post originated on Facebook as an encouragement for the holidays. I’m putting it here so it’s easier to find. We have challenging people in our lives year-round. Staying in joy!
You are an atmosphere changer. You change the quality of the air around you wherever you go.
But when you battle a heavy atmosphere, you may not always feel the change you are creating.
Sometimes the heaviness can feel more intense as you stand against it. It is not floating downstream, but swimming upstream that makes you feel the force of the current.
One time, I asked the Lord, “How do I keep my joy in the face of insults, anger, and competition? How do I show grace when I feel like arguing or defending myself? Or when I just feel like crying and giving up?”
I heard Him say, “Smile at me. Just look up, and smile at me. You love because of me, you’re doing this for me–smile at me!”
I want to be joyful and happy, but I seriously do not always feel like smiling at people. And they don’t always make it easy.
But just hearing Him say it made me smile, and I thought, “Ok, I’ll try it.”
There are studies about what happens when we smile, endorphins released, etc, but I had never thought about smiling at the Lord as a way to hold on to joy.
I had a dinner meeting with a group of people soon after that prayer. By the time we sat down to eat, I was already annoyed and battling insults and offense. I excused myself to ‘check on something,’ and as I stepped away, I gritted my teeth in a huge forced grin, and I looked up, and I started talking. “Here I am! I’m SMILING! See me SMILING?!? I’m smiling at You! I love You! I’m here for You! You make me smile! No one else has to make me smile because YOU MAKE ME SMILE!!!”
It was mad smiling, a little forced, but it made me laugh. It was truly a sacrifice of praise in that moment, but it was funny. It was something you would do with a best friend.
Just look up, and smile at me!
It reminded me that I wasn’t there alone. He was smiling back.
He gets how hard people can be. And He loves them too. And He and I, we are tag-teaming it. And He’s smiling and winking back at me, “You got this!!!”
I started sneaking off to get a dose of joy from my Father about every fifteen minutes. Just off to the side, wherever, and I would just look up and smile.
Truth? Those people didn’t act the best that day.
But, it’s actually a great memory for me. God shows Himself real when we let Him. I had a blast that day with my Daddy in Heaven, my best friend.
As we have parties and dinners and meetings and gatherings with people who may be hard to love, I pray we remember to SMILE at God! It plugs us in to the huge source of all joy.
And that joy, the joy of the Lord, it makes us strong.
Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Neh 8:10b