I need to begin with a warning, or disclosure or something. I had my husband read this before I published it because I had a feeling that this topic might be a sensitive one, and I trust his opinion. He read and agreed with my points (because we're alike), but he said in some parts I sounded angry, possibly, and he was concerned some people might be offended by some of the content. We talked it over and I think I've analyzed myself well enough to be able to tell you this: It's not anger you hear in my voice. It's passion.
I'm passionate about this subject because I used to be told to "fake it for everyone else," and to pretend to be happy for everyone else's benefit. Even when I was depressed I was told to do this. And particularly, after a trauma I was basically told to pretend nothing ever happened. So maybe a part of me is wary of bubbly, seemingly-always-happy people, because subconsciously I wonder if they're just faking it as I was told to do. That's an issue God and I need to work through, but as you read, please know that 1) I am not angry or cynical. I'm passionate, and am trying to stick to my writing style (honest/authentic with a lot of voice), and 2) this post is primarily written for people who are not outgoing and are not bubbly/extroverted/whatever.
I've kind of written about this subject before, here. But I'm about to go a lot deeper, now...
Oh, and anyone who says writing isn't therapeutic has never written an honest word in their life.
Let me set the record straight for all of you shiny happy people: I love you. You're great. I'm glad you're glad, and I'm happy for you in all of your rainbows and glitter. Really, it looks good on you. And sometimes I do feel as shiny as you, but it's rare. That doesn't mean there's something wrong with me though (or with you), and it doesn't mean that I'm not as happy as you are, it just means that I show my emotions in a different way (or I internalize them, whatever). So please. I will enjoy your sparkle as much as you enjoy my dull, thank you very much. Because we all have our moments, and we're all God's children. La-di-da, Kumbaya, I love you, you love me, Jesus loves the little children. Let's try not to pass judgment here, because I want to discuss something else.
So. Moving on. Now let's talk about the actual shining we should be doing.
My ever-so-reliable-for-incredible-insight study bible said this in reference to John 12:32, "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.":
Does that take the pressure off of you at all, like it does a little for me? No one's salvation is my responsibility. I am doing the best I can every day to represent Jesus, and to allow Him to live through me. Even on the bad days. But at the end of each day, even if I've been the shiniest, happiest, verse-quotingest, most inspirational, and wisest person on the planet, it is not I who will "win" anyone over to Christ. He does that.
Now wait... before you start throwing tomatoes at me... I'm not here to condone being a recluse, living under a rock, and doing your best to simply avoid as many people as possible. (Not every day, anyway.) I'm here to say that it's okay to not be involved every once in a while. It's okay to not want to go to that thing. It's okay to not smile all day long, and it's okay to be honest when someone asks you how you're doing. Yes, being a "shiny" person has its benefits, I'm sure -- maybe people will "want what you have," or something, and then you can tell them about Jesus. And that's awesome! But not everyone has that sparkle. And like I said, this post is for those other people. Those people who, like me, just don't have it in them all of the time to "put a smile on." Even when I'm happy, I'm not necessarily smiling!
What I'm saying is that you don't have to be all shiny and stuff to show people who Christ is. (I mean, He didn't skip around whistling and singing, happy and excited about Himself all of the time, did He?) You can be happy without dancing a jig. You can be happy without singing in the rain. There is a way to show people who Christ is by JUST BEING. And sometimes, BEING is scary, hard, and sad.
Yes, even when you have hope in Christ, life continues to be hard. You continue to have bad days. You continue to lash out, maybe. You continue to have doubts, maybe. You continue to sin, most definitely, and you continue to disappoint yourself.
You also continue to have hope though, even if you don't recognize it.
Okay, okay. I'll cut to the chase.
All of this is just to say Friends, don't feel like less of a Christian or like you're not as holy as someone else because you're feeling down. Don't feel like you're failing, or you're setting a terrible example, or you're somehow going to turn someone away from Jesus if you're depressed or anxious or just... not smiling. Because really, it's Him in the end, not you, who does the saving.
You are allowed to JUST BE, whether you're shiny or not. Because honestly I believe that whether you're happy or sad, if you've given your life to Him, Christ is going to shine through you no matter what.