Apparently, I smile a lot.
Not that this is a bad thing. My students, back when I was a classroom theology teacher, used to tell me that I smiled all the time. While I certainly didn't feel this way, they insisted that they could not imagine me getting angry because I just seemed so happy all the time. I would tell them with a wry smile that they should talk to my children because they definitely knew that I get angry at times! But it is with a bit of wistfulness that I do remember feeling a general sense of happiness and a more-or-less pervasive positivity in the not-too-distant past.
Sadly, it's been awhile since I have felt that way.
I think there are many reasons for this. I have traversed some unexpected personal and emotional terrain during the past couple of years that have taken my soul by surprise. The trek through this tundra, although necessary and meaningful, has been arduous, painful at times, and wearing on my spirit. Additionally, I think the nearly continuous news streams of distressing societal events has similarly taken a toll on my spirit. There have definitely been moments when I've been near despair and have had difficulty hanging onto a thread of hope, despite being a person of deep faith. I also think that, if I'm honest with myself, I've fallen into one of the traps of being a "good person," which is to lose sight of the very good that I'm hoping to embody. Elizabeth Gilbert, in an interview with Krista Tippett from The On Being Project, shared, "And you know, you have to be careful about this, especially when you have an impulse to be a good person — a “good person,” and your definition of a good person is somebody who gives everything to others. It's a beautiful impulse, but if it's done from a place of only giving darkness and suffering your attention, then you become somebody who's very difficult to be around. [laughs] There's a lovely line that this British columnist said, one time, that “You can always tell people who live for others by the anguished expressions on the faces of the others. [laughs]”
This is not what I want for myself.