This video makes me proud. It is share-worthy:
I’ve been meaning to blog for a while about this topic, but haven’t made the time. Here once again, this topic brings this thought to mind, so I know it must be for someone.
When I was a freshman in college, I tried to strike up a conversation one day with two older, clearly cynical and jaded students who spoke to me in a cutting and belittling way that hurt me deeply. I’ve never forgotten it. Their eye-rolling and laughing assumption was that I was a happy person because I had never experienced real life, and that I was a simple, idyllic Pollyanna. They couldn’t have been more wrong.
They had no idea that as a preacher’s kid, I sometimes (necessarily) had to go to hospitals with Dad. Grady Hospital’s ER taught me tons about life. The pastor often gets called right after the police in some cases. Sometimes, they call the pastor first, and when the church phone also rings at the parsonage, you pick it up. They had no idea that as an eight-year-old I answered the phone one day and counseled and prayed with a person threatening to take his life. They had no idea that at age 12, my dad was robbed at gunpoint by a crackhead — five days before my sister’s wedding, and that I sat through the trial and helped send a man to prison. They had no idea that I was accosted on the playground as a first grader. They had no idea that one day when I was 12, while my bedroom was being painted, one of our church members committed suicide. It was the painter’s wife. That is a sight I can never forget. They had no idea that I had recorded my first album at age 9 and had sung across Europe at age 10, seeing a way of life outside of my own. They had no idea that I had witnessed the very worst in people as they came to my dad for help; that dropping by the church alone one day at age 17, I walked in on a crazy, naked man who had defecated throughout the church building. They had no idea that while their parents were taking them to soccer and dance practices in their suburban neighborhoods, my parents were feeding homeless people and dragging me to minister’s meetings that Mom catered, while living in East Point meant that our cars were broken into frequently, the church was burglarized frequently, and I knew the right circumstances in which to shoot first and ask questions later. I wonder if they knew what it was like to sleep with a gun under the mattress? I wonder if they knew that my senior year of high school was so tumultuous that I changed schools — twice — and left home? I wonder if they knew that I figured everyone else’s life was Leave-It-To-Beaver and I was some kind of freak?
You may look at me now and think that my life is perfect. A perfect life doesn’t include your brother-in-law being murdered in 2003. Or having your world was turned upside down when your husband is diagnosed with three incurable diseases in the space of a year. Or having so much stress in your marriage that you finally come to the end and decide that it’s really not worth it and head for the door. Not to mention having your financial picture devastated in the economic collapse of 2007. Finally, in 2016, just when we thought we were finally to the light at the end of the tunnel, we lost much of what we owned, I became ill, and once again we took a devastating financial hit because of a massive exposure to a biotoxin due to mold.
So when you see that smile on my face, you can rest assured that there are MILES of struggles behind it. You can rest assured that there is depth and wisdom behind it. You can be confident that my confidence is not in myself, but in my God who has delivered me at every turn and has given me a hope and a purpose.
We can always find the negative, my friend. BUT there’s always positive. Paul wrote to the church at Phillipi to guard their hearts: “Whatsoever things are true… honest… just… pure… lovely… of good report… Think on THESE things.” (Phillipians 4:8)
Our Creator and Father understood that overthinking and pessimism lead to depression and bitterness, and that “unforgiveness” is like a poison that can rot our very souls. Look for the bad, and you’ll find it. But you’ll also find every evil thing.
Look to find the good, my friends. Live in gratitude. (“In ALL things give thanks.”) Sometimes we have to create our smiles. I like what one minister said: “We’re not faking it; we’re faith-ing it.” It’s not about ignoring reality; it’s more about choosing to see the good and setting your mind on things above. It really does start with something THAT simple.
Let God’s love heal your heart. I know for a fact that He can do it. ❤️
I’m no Pollyanna, but I am an overcomer. The joy of the Lord is my strength.