The old woman’s face was bandaged, her ruby-red lipstick spread haphazardly across her lips, her hair a bit disheveled from whatever medical procedure she had just encountered and yet her eyes were active and animated. Her laughter was contagious and her offers of hospitality wildly amusing. Seven fellow passengers had gathered around her in the hospital elevator, and as the doors began to close, she extended an invitation for anyone who needed more room, to sit down with her.
Everyone laughed. And no one felt sorry for her. Instead, we all walked away lighter, happier, more hopeful than whatever distraction had captured our minds before we met in that little cage of steel descending five short stories to the ground floor. As we each slipped through the automatic outside doors, the sun was shining, we were all still smiling, and at that moment we were reminded that happiness is a choice.
The young girl came to our attention because of some trouble at school between her and my son. The “mama bear” in me was not amused and I began to instruct my child on exactly how he should handle this little situation. Then, I started to wonder about her and what might be happening at her house. What I found out clearly changed my assessment of the situation.
Seven months ago, she watched as her mother died from a brain tumor. Her grief-stricken father quickly remarried and brought his new wife with her two young children into their home. Just as quickly, they decided to sell the house and move to a new city. So, now her mother is gone, she’s in a new house with a new family, a new school, she has no friends, she’s hurt, she’s scared and she’s confused.
In the world of 15-year-old boys and girls, this might have seemed a bit radical and weird, but a family horseback-riding trip seemed to be a simple solution to the current conflicts. It was in her words, “A little awkward.” But, by the end of the day, with the help of two aging horses named Tinker and Lucky, she felt different. “I’ve had SO much fun! The horses have made me forget all the sad stuff.”
We talked about her choices, about what her mother would want her to do, how she will probably have to wake up tomorrow and the next day and every day for the rest of her life and make a choice again. But she can still be happy. It’s okay for her to be happy.
God sees her. He sees the elderly woman in the elevator. And He sees us.
The blessings were beyond measure recently when I was witness to the first encounter between a ten-year-old girl, who was born blind, and a small herd of horses. As she approached the barn, feeling her way with a telescopic cane and following the verbal instructions of her teacher, I saw something only God truly understands. The horses stood still, patient and waiting. It was hot, they were tied in several locations, and yet they all just stood still. She touched one and then the other, feeling their manes, ears and tails. It took a bit of courage but she got up to ride and “happiness” was something we could all see.
“This is the day the Lord has made,
let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
“It’s not what happens to us in life,but how we respond to it that really matters.”
How are you responding when pressed on every side?
Are you choosing happiness or letting someone or some thing steal your joy?
Today is your day. God has given you free will.
You have a choice. Are you happy? Do you know it?
Does your face surely show it? (Okay, I couldn’t resist…I had many years of Vacation Bible School) 🙂
Where ever you are, whatever you are doing,
I pray for you a happy and joyful day today!
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