Sometimes I’ve wondered if I am doing myself a disservice by declaring myself as a ‘smiling lds girl’. Some who do not know me very well think I am perpetually cheerful but the truth is much more complicated.
The germ of the name started when I set up an email after my mission. I was on such a high then that I really was smiling all the time. I felt like nothing could be harder, nothing more intense than my mission, and I had done it, done it for God. In many ways I felt invisible.
But such bubbles are made to be burst and they sure were. It took just 2 years to get to one of the lowest times of my life. I’ve talked about it many times but in 2007 I left a job that was like a black cloud in my life. The details don’t really matter. All that matters is I was in a low spot and I had the courage to claw myself out of it.
With a renewed vision of my potential for happiness a smile was back on my face. All of the sudden the moniker of ‘smiling lds girl’ seemed appropriate. I also had a bit of time and decided to join the blogging world and gave it my email name smilingldsgirl. My first entry was in May of 2008. The freedom of Joblessness. Back then I said:
“my first foray into the world of blogging…It is hard to describe my last 6 months but let me just say that I am in the job hunt and I couldn’t be happier. I honestly think I will be a bit sad when I have to go back into the work force. There is something wonderful about living my life the way I want to without regards to supervisors, bosses or routines. I have always been a big one for planning but after a bit of a breakdown last year I needed a change more than anything.”
It was so strange because in the eyes of most people my situation might have appeared quite pitiable (no job, no man, overweight, etc) but I was happy as can be. I knew that I had done what God wanted me to do. In many ways it was the same feeling I felt after my mission. I had survived and new adventures awaited me.
So I was smiling again.
I had a period of peace and then in 2010 the crazy health challenges started and really I spent a lot of the next 2 years surviving again. I don’t mean to seem ungrateful because I have been incredibly blessed during this time but let’s just say it was harder to smile for a little while. It was rough and I remember going to Hawaii and just thinking ‘ why can’t I be this happy all the time?’. But I kept pressing forward and smiling in spite of it all.
Then I found open water swimming and boxing and started smiling again. Now I can hardly envision my life without it. What did I do with all my time before? It takes up so much of my time and yet I do most everything (with the exception of grad school) I did before. I wish that everyone could feel the way I feel when I’m in the water. It is joy. It is smiling.
Honestly it makes me a little nervous because I feel like I’m smiling again. What does God have in store for me? I am certainly going to enjoy every season of joy I get and try to store it up for the testing that will inevitably come my way.
I suppose I had my mind on this because I am thinking of buying/building a house. It is overwhelming and I can’t help but feel it will make my life more complicated. It’s just one of those seminal moments of life so it seems appropriate to feel a bit introspective. I never thought I would buy a house by myself. It makes me excited and nervous for the future. Can I do it? Will I keep smiling?
The answer is yes, but it will be interrupted by periods of tears; and, I believe that is how God wants it. If we think about Jesus and His life He was not always smiling. He wept with his followers. He mourned with those that mourned and comforted those that stood in need of comfort. He even got angry on occasion when it was appropriate.
We are told to have a broken heart and contrite spirit. I’ve had broken hearts in my life and each time I have come out of it smiling because I learned in those crucible experiences that God loved me. That is why you need a broken heart and a contrite spirit because you simply need Him more in those moments than ever before.
So in the end, I am smiling deep down inside even in the tender moments because I know God is turning me into what He knows I can be.
Thank you to everyone who has loved me in the low times. Kept me smiling. 🙂