Smile, Though Your Heart is Breaking

This weekend I watched my grandson while his parents had some much needed together. It was a delight to have one-on-one time but there were a few sad faces when he was aware of missing mommy and daddy. One such occasion occurred after breakfast. In an effort to stop his tears, I took him outside. My scheme worked and he began laughing as we played crash (basically him running into me). After a few minutes, though, he looked straight at me and said, “I’m not having fun.” I guess he needed me to know that he was still upset. Kids are too cute. His comment did remind me that we humans are complex creatures and emotions aren’t mutually exclusive. It is quite possible to be happy, sad, afraid, and angry—all within a relatively short span of time or even at once. Consider when we are grieving the loss of a loved one and the pain is so great. After the shock wears off and we again begin to experience joy and laughter, we sometimes feel uncomfortable as my grandson did. Maybe we have guilt or even worse, are terrified that we’re moving on and leaving this special person further and further behind. That’s when we are at risk of shutting down in order to manage the tension these contrary emotions and false beliefs can create. We are in danger of becoming an emotional stone, unable to feel anything, positive or negative. My grandson’s feelings were appropriate for a two-year old but we become dysfunctional adults if we don’t learn that to be able to find joy in someone or something God brings our way, even in the midst of the most challenging circumstances, is healthy. In fact, it’s therapeutic. So, it’s like the old song,
Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through for you

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