“But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.” Psalm 3:3
Does putting on a happy face work? It depends on the goal. It might succeed in fooling others. But, we can’t fool ourselves by pretending to be cheerful. We can attempt to hide sorrow and pain. But, a fake smile can’t change the fact that there is turmoil either in our heart or in our home (or both).
This past weekend I had a reason to smile. Our son, Chris, participated in his church’s celebration of the arts. The fact that he’s actively involved with his church makes me happy. When his performance went well, I smiled. The reason for my sheer delight came when I introduced myself to one of Chris’s friends.
“Hi, I’m Chris’s mother.”
“Hello, Mrs. Chandler. I’m so glad Chris is my friend.”
It warmed my heart to hear that comment.
People who have mental illness (MI) are often excluded, misunderstood, ostracized, or ignored. What a joy to know someone sincerely values their friendship with Chris!
Any mom is happiest when everything is going well for her kids. If her kids are cheerful, so is she. Our children can be the greatest source of joy. Or sorrow.
A mother of a child who has MI yearns for that child to be content and peaceful. To have a reason to smile.
We grow weary of putting on a superficial smile. Painting it on like lipstick to conceal opposing feelings. To hide the shame. To pretend everything is normal and fine in our lives.
But God cares about what’s behind that façade. In His Word we read that, “Even in laughter the heart may sorrow…” (Proverbs 14:13). Our Father knows when we’re putting on a good front. He sees past the false expression, to the hidden sorrow. He knows the solution requires more than a Kodak-moment smile.
No wonder the word smile appears infrequently in the Bible. It’s much easier to find words like: delight, joy, grateful, and cheerful. Those deeper emotions swell up inside until they spill over to our face. They give us a real reason to smile.
God can fill our hearts with such joy that it bubbles up from our soul and onto our face. We see depression causing our child to curl up, with head hung low. And find hope in the Lifter of heads. The One who can restore joy to our children and to us.
How has God given you a reason to smile?