Monday, February 4, 2013

A Decade Ago

College was a tumultuous time for me. Not yet twenty, I was in the midst of a broken marriage (one that wasn't really whole to start), doing my best to raise my daughter and juggle 24 credit hour semesters in an effort to finish my education and get my life together.  It was a sad, scary, crazy time, and much of those years has been forgotten. What I do remember clearly is that every day I would make a firm decision to be HAPPY. It was a one-day-at-a-time commitment, but I dug my heels in a focused on the GOOD in my life, the blessings.  Looking back, I'm sure that my gracious God and sweet daughter were the only reasons I was able to stay positive through the ups and downs.  

Mostly, I remember my college years in snippets. Moments. Photographs. 

Sometimes, the only good I could realize in a day was the joy of driving the 45 minutes to campus with the windows of my Tiburon down and happy music blasting. It was this drive that usually escorted me off the interstate and toward the doors of my classrooms, and it was at the end of one drive that I collected my most memorable moment of college.  

A man in his 30's sat in the windowed lounge as I settled in to look over notes before class. I hadn't noticed him before this day and had never shared a class with him, but he looked at me from his seat and told me, "I've noticed you walk from your car each day. Your face is always smiling. You always walk with a bounce in your step. You're one of the happiest people I've seen, and it makes me happy to see your happiness." 

Wow. I thought how ironic it was that my life was crumbling around me, yet I managed to appear genuinely happy. Then I realized that I WAS genuinely happy. Even in the midst of the rubble that was my life then. I've never been great at receiving a compliment, but I said thank you and chatted a bit about casual topics. Then he headed to his class, and I never ran into him again. It was a handful of minutes, but ten years later, I still remember what that man saw in me, a stranger to him. He had no idea that his comment would so profoundly affect my life, that I would cherish it a decade later. I pray that I can strengthen someone with kind words in the same way one day.

I am reminded that the way we live and act DOES make a difference in the world around us. We have a choice to spread joy or bitterness. We can live behind our sorrows and trials, or we can grasp, sometimes desperately, to the tiny joys that are in our lives. Because THERE IS ALWAYS JOY!