I’ve been thinking an awful lot about my smile lately. It scares me to think that I go about life wearing a mask. It scares me to think that I am not real, or happy. I’m scared that somewhere inside of me I’m a broken mess full of past failures that cannot seem to be mended, and that my smile is a result of a coping mechanism I developed to deal with my perfectionism and harshness on myself. If my smile does cover up anything, I’m scared of what it covers up. Who is the real me? And why do I naturally smile all the time and only realize that I am smiling when somebody calls me out on it?
This is how God answered those questions for me on September 7th, 2015.
Excerpt taken from my journal
My mom and I had gone thrifting on Labor Day, because everything in Goodwill was 50% off and I love thrifting a lot. No shame. The line to check out was literally 2 hours long.
In front of me was a woman wearing a Mercy Ministries shirt with her mom, and we spent the next 2 hours waiting together. We talked about books, music, worship, and church. I told her about the book I found, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.
“It’s about a girl who finds her voice, I think,” I said.
Then I finally remembered. “That’s where I’ve heard of Mercy Ministries! It’s a rehabilitation program right? I went to Winter Jam where Francesca Battistelli talked about it!”
“Yep!! It’s great. We love Francesca Battistelli! She made an entire video dedicated to Mercy Ministries!”
“I’ve seen it!”
And we practically fan-girled about Christian music until we were at the checkout.
Before she took her turn, she turned to me with a thoughtful expression. “I know this may sound weird, but I feel like it was God’s plan for us to meet today. Just by the way you smile, you are a carrier of the Lord’s joy. I can tell. I feel like the Lord has placed that in your heart, and he wanted you to know that today.”
I was stunned.
“Thank you,” I said, speechless.
“Next person in line!” The Goodwill people call out.
She turns back towards me before leaving. “Remember, you’re a carrier of his joy.”
“WAIT! What’s your name?” I called after her.
“Taryne,” she said, with a smile.
“Nice to meet you,” we said in sync, shaking hands.
And then she left.
So why do I smile?
It’s not because I’m fake or wear a mask all the time. It’s not because I am a depressed failure who needs to cover up my crap. And I do have the ability to smile, even after crying for hours or having a horrible day. It’s a crazy thing, to be so worked up on the inside, and then walk somewhere in public and have all these people smiling at you and meeting your gaze. And then realizing that you were smiling first.
But these are the reasons why I smile:
1. Because dogs are so incredibly fluffy
2. Because of amazing hikes, waterfalls, nature, trips, friends, food, and dreams. Because I’m never alone, because I get to kayak in a piece of God’s masterpiece with my best friend and do life with her.
5. Because I have friends and family supporting me through everything
6. Because I love practically everyone I meet
7. Because I am unashamed of who I am and what I believe. God has done so much in my life and has given me some of the most amazing memories in life itself.
8. Because I get to do what I love every day, worshiping God wherever I go with everything I do through things like singing, dancing, helping out at school, my internship, long bike rides admiring nature, or simply showing kindness to another human being.
9. Because I’m not perfect, and I always see a soft side and the best in people. And my imperfections cause me to create incredible memories of me slowly learning to step out of my comfort zone and live life to the fullest. And I know that God has my future in place so I don’t need to worry about being a crazy lunatic anyways.
10. There are so many more reasons to smile, but most importantly, like Taryne said, God has placed a joy in my heart that cannot be contained. If you have given your life to Jesus, you possess that joy too. The truth is though that everyone has a reason to smile, no matter how big or how small. Especially if you are a Christian. Being forgiven is definitely something to smile about.
And I’d hope that I wouldn’t lose that joy or take it for granted. Or undermine it in any way, calling it a mask or fake when in reality God has given me my smile, attitude, and energy for a purpose.
Someday, I hope that God would use me to make the world a little bit kinder, a little bit happier, and a little less broken.
I smile because I know that one day, after God has used every spec of me, I will be home where I belong.