Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.—JAMES 1:2 (NIV)
It was one of those days. Heavy. Leaden. It took so much energy to deal with my husband’s dementia that I never felt truly happy anymore.
I decided to talk to my friend Rob about the way I was feeling. Rob had lost the love of his life to cancer a year earlier. He listened empathetically, but he didn’t baby me. “Our pain is not unique, you know,” he said. “C.S. Lewis said, ‘All human relationships end in loss.’ ”
Wow. Was that supposed to cheer me?
“I do have a suggestion though,” he said. “Find something each day to make you smile.”
Hmmm. Although that sounded pretty clichéd, I could at least try it. One day it was a neighbor’s dog that pierced my gloom. A few days later, a gentle breeze. Then, simply the aroma of cinnamon muffins. I kept thinking about my friend’s suggestion. He hadn’t told me to pretend to smile. He’d urged action! I needed to actually look for things that reliably made me smile.
I decided to try painting, something I’d always wanted to do, but never had the time. One painting led to another, and one day I realized that each painting was giving me genuine joy.