My firm expectation that life was generally supposed to be awesome, was only mildly muddied by the bumps I faced, in my younger years. I predominantly maintained the philosophy that heartbreak, uncertainty, angst, and grief were the exception. And that life was “supposed” to mostly feel good.
I thought the goal was to remove the obstacles, be always moving towards settling the disquietude, solving the problem, removing the pain, learning the lesson as quickly as possible, so I could do better. Be better. Fail less. Hurt less.
And when I became a mom, I thought motherhood was “supposed” to feel amazing almost all of the time, too. I was always thinking about how to remove or repair the things standing in the way of experiencing motherhood as mostly fun and wonderful.
The wheels of my mind spun with new answers and things I had read, formulas and systems and solutions to fix myself and my children and my home right up into the perfect versions I thought they should be.
The sun seemed to smile at my weary soul on that morning last week, as it crept around a nearby office building. With only the sounds of a bird’s first-of-the-morning song and my sneakers striking the pavement, the sunrise brought me a dose of peace and courage for the day.
That niggling feeling that I should be soaking up every beautiful moment of summer freedom, right there with the drum of constant arguments and complaints of boredom on my aching ears…it all had me needing a little encouragement.
So the beauty of that morning’s sunrise sat far deeper than shades of pink and orange, with the promise of a fresh start, extending a gentle invitation to new possibility, new hope, new mercy. A smile to say “Today is a new day”… “You are going to be ok”… “You can do this.” A soft and simple smile.
And isn’t this the longing of every heart – to be smiled upon?
The beginning of the ministry of Jesus, God in flesh, was with a smile from above. Father God looked down at him and said “This is my son, whom I love. With him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3: 17)
How much more do we need to hear God say “You are mine, and I take great delight in you”?
There are so many other voices that would tell us we’re not enough, to work harder, that other moms – other humans – are doing it better, and we’ll surely never get it right. In the noise of my mind I sometimes try to scare or guilt myself into being a better mom, a better wife, a better friend…but we all know that doesn’t work. We end up being critical of others the same way we’re being critical of ourselves.
When we’re not receiving grace, we end up with none to offer.
This day that started with the peeking sun smile, I was reminded that I could do all of this a different way. I can start my day with simply being smiled upon…just getting quiet long enough to let God’s delight rest on me, without an ounce of striving.
And it makes me feel brave. Like, this kind of brave…
…where you know you’re loved and can run free and take on whatever the day would bring.
I forget all the time, but I’m trying to just take a breath at the start of each day and in the midst of every discouraged moment to let my heart receive God’s smile.
To be delighted in makes us sure-footed and unafraid. We walk with more confident steps when we’re resting under the loving gaze of our Heavenly Father.
And, funny enough, the more I’m smiled upon, the more I smile upon my children. The more I gain this courage of knowing Whose I am, the more I want to give a dose of courage to my kids – and everyone I meet, for that matter.
The Delighted In can’t help but love free. The Smiled Upon can’t help but to smile upon others. Those who live Claimed and Belonging can’t help but draw others in close.