The Day I Lost My Smile
"She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come." Proverbs 31:25 (NIV)
I looked at my schedule and an overwhelming sense of dread started creeping into my heart. "What's wrong with me? Why am I always running late, running behind, and running after my people who all seem to compound this issue?"
Because time refused to stand still while I pondered, it was necessary to jump right into task mode. There were lunches to pack, permission forms to sign, and tangles that needed gathering up into ponytails. I put one foot in front of the other and kicked into automatic, mentally crossing off one thing after another on my morning routine checklist.
I gathered up backpacks and lunchboxes and started announcing from the front door that we had to leave right this minute. And then I said it again. And then I yelled it in a tone that finally got my kids to appear. I quickly checked to make sure we didn't repeat yesterday's mistake of letting one leave with no shoes on. Then I marched out of the house while tossing out a stern reminder to please shut the door quickly so the dog didn't get out.
But the dog did get out.
As I slipped the car in drive, the dog darted right out in front of me causing me to simultaneously slam on the brakes and spill both cups of orange juice I had gingerly perched between my purse and the little stacks of toast.
I jumped out to usher the dog back into the house and let hot tears just have their way. The green numbers of the dashboard clock seemed to simultaneously mock and remind me I had no time to sit and cry it all out.
I handed my kids their soggy toast and in a rare moment of silence, they took it without protest.
We pulled into the carpool line at school and I stared at the long line of cars ahead of me. I imagined all the wonderful smiling mothers who were doing this better than me. They probably had organized systems for packing lunches the night before and making sure their kids kept up with their shoes. They probably did family devotions each morning, ate breakfast at the table, and sang songs all the way to school.
I compared all that to the realities of my morning and came to one heart-sinking conclusion: "I stink at this."
Almost at that exact moment my phone buzzed with a text message from a friend: "I had a really hard morning with my kids today. I'd love to have coffee some time and learn how you do it all so well."
I couldn't believe it. I half sighed and half chuckled at the irony.
I turned around to my kids in the back and said, "Hey guys, I'm really sorry Mommy was such a grump this morning. I think I misplaced my smile. So I just want you to know while you're at school today I'm going to do everything I can to find it."
After I dropped them off, I called that friend and told her what a gift it was to get her text.
I shared with her. She shared with me.
Together, we brainstormed better ways to prepare for these morning pitfalls we both kept finding ourselves in.
Together, we gave ourselves the permission to admit how hard motherhood can sometimes be and that it's okay to feel caught off guard by the endless demands.
Together, we listed reasons to be so very thankful.
Together, we found strength.
Together, we regained our sense of dignity.
And it wasn't too long until we both found ourselves laughing together.
It reminds me of our key verse, Proverbs 31:25, "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come." But sometimes it takes a friend to bring us back to the place where we can live this verse.
We need each other. The key word that day I processed life with my friend and gained a better perspective was, "together." It's such a powerful word and the exact reason I wrote this devotion today.
You are not alone.
Oh, how easy it is to lose our smiles and forget to laugh at the craziness of our lives. I need reminders. Just recently, I bought a necklace with a gold pendant that reads, "She laughs." (See below in related resources for more information.) When I see the reflection of this necklace in the mirror I remember laughing is one of the best ways to show those I love that I enjoy them and I like doing life with them. What a gift for them to have memories of me laughing.
I imagine, though the circumstances might be different for you, you know that place where I was. And maybe you need a reminder to laugh, too. We all have times where we feel like failures. We feel like others are doing life so much better. We feel so very alone in our struggles and issues and chaotic emotions. And we look up one day and feel like it was a lifetime ago since we laughed.
So, I slip this little devotion into your life and whisper, you're not alone. You're doing this so much better than you think you are. God has entrusted you with your life, your loved ones, your unique challenges because you are perfectly equipped for it all.
Just don't lose your smile. And if you run into me today looking a little worn out, might you remind me of this as well?
Dear Lord, help me not to lose my smile today. I want to find my joy in You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
What friend can you share your struggles with today?
Choose someone you can be honest with, and determine to encourage each other through meeting for coffee, praying for each other, and sending text messages throughout the week.
Ecclesiastes 4:12, "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves." (NIV)