My daughter has been posting some photos which I would just as soon didn’t ever see the light of day. It’s not that they’re bad pictures or that I don’t love the people in them.
They were shot either at the hospital where my wife lay on life support for six days or at the church in the luncheon following her funeral. And they all have one terrible thing in common.
We’re all smiling.
I’ve noticed this in photographs our family has made in years past. We would be at the funeral of my parents or a beloved aunt or uncle, and after the ceremonies have ended and people are milling around greeting one another or saying their farewells, someone breaks out a camera and begins grouping us. And without fail, we do it.
We all smile.
I suppose it’s because we were taught from childhood if someone points a lens in our direction, we smile. I certainly ask every person who sits before me to be sketched to smile. Everyone looks better smiling, “including you,” I tell them.
But sometimes, it feels like a smile is out of place.
Like when your heart is breaking.
Like when you are about to go home to an empty house, the first time in over half a century you will not be greeted by the sounds and touches of the love of your life.
Like when you have just lost half of your very life and are now deformed forever.
Like when you have no idea how you are going to get through the next 24 hours, much less the next week or month. And the thought of years without her starts the tears cascading all over again.
Sometimes you don’t feel like smiling.
But you do anyway, through the tears.
Sometimes we smile by faith. We know that our loved one is with Jesus and she’s doing just fine and we are relieved beyond words that her pain has ended and those everlasting doctors’ visits have ground to a halt. We don’t feel like smiling, but we make ourselves do so.
Rescuing our smiles from our feelings is a good thing, I know.
It’s just so confounded hard.
So, one more time, I pull out my favorite “rejoice anyway” scripture and quote it, hoping the reality will set in and that the Lord will count this as faith even though I’m still feeling pretty rotten….
“Though the fig tree should not blossom, and there be no fruit on the vines;
Though the yield of the olive should fail, and the fields produce no fruit.
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls–
Yet I will exult in the Lord. I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet;
He causes me to walk on my high places.” (Habakkuk 3:17-19).
The Lord knows.
And ultimately that’s all that counts.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.