Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Word Filled Wednesdays: Cheerful Heart

"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps
a person’s strength."
Proverbs 17:22 (NLT)

What does it mean to have a cheerful heart?  Does it mean we smile and pretend we have no problems?  Or does it mean that we take the situation we are given, and try to see the positives in it, to make the best of it.

I am going to let you in on a little secret.  Everyone has problems.  Sometimes, those problems are trivial, like a run in a new pair of pantyhose.  Sometimes, the problems are serious, like illness, or job uncertainty.  But, I strongly believe that, in the midst of any problem, one can have a cheerful heart, which can provide comfort during one's trials.

People, in my opinion, misunderstand cheerfulness in the midst of problems.  A cheerful person is sometimes viewed as being weak, or naive, not fully grasping the gravity of the situation.  Perhaps, for some people, that is the case, but for many, many other people, this cheerfulness comes from knowing that the Lord is in control.  We rest assured that in all things, God is at work.  Even the toughest of situations has the ability to provide goodness and blessings.  It is difficult to keep that in mind when in the midst of a tragedy, but in all things we should thank the Lord. 

One of my biggest pet peeves for years was traffic.  Living in Pittsburgh, the land of bridges and tunnels, I encountered traffic daily.  I used to sit in a line of cars each morning, inching toward the Fort Pitt tunnel entrance.  It made me so cranky.  Then, one day, I decided to thank God for the traffic.  I prayed for all the people during their morning commutes, and I thanked Him, trusting that this traffic served a purpose.  Perhaps it was saving me from being in an accident, perhaps it was setting the timing for my path to cross with another person's.  It is not my job to ask why, it is just my job to say thank you.  Once I adopted this attitude toward my morning traffic, and allowed my heart to be cheerful, my days were much happier. 

I know this is kind of a tongue in cheek example, but the message is the important part.  Re-read the scripture that started this post.  Pay attention to the part that says a broken spirit saps a person's strength.  Does that sound like the kind of person you want to be?  Probably not.  Oh, do not get me wrong, I know plenty of people laugh at my expense, or get angry at my cheerfulness.  I will never understand that really, people getting angry at me just for being happy.  Don't they know they have the same power to be happy? 

A good friend of mine has a name for people who want to be unhappy- basement people.  It is a term she got from her mom.  Life is like a house, and some people want to sit in the basement, where it is dark, and dank, and wallow in their misery.  The thing is, these kind have people have every opportunity to climb those stairs out of their misery, and come up into the light and happiness.  They choose not to.

As for me, I choose happiness, and to have a cheerful heart.  For that, I will never apologize.