A glad heart lights up the face. (Proverbs 15:13)
I was reading a little piece about Saint Emily de Rodat last week and it mentioned a quote she spoke to a young postulant. I felt like the words sort of jumped off the page and landed right in my heart. She told the young nun, “Keep your enthusiasm. Be brave. Put all your trust in God. And always maintain a holy cheerfulness.” These were powerful words for someone who lives in the grayest winter state in the the entire United States. Sometimes it can be a little tough to maintain a cheerful attitude as the sun is so stingy with its rays, so St. Emily’s words were perfect.
I often think about being cheerful, but I don’t think I’d ever heard the term holy cheerfulness. When you think about it, it does make sense because holiness means growing closer to God -- so of course that would make you cheerful! The part I really like about the phrase is that if cheerfulness is a way to become holy, then God has a big part in it and maintaining a cheerful disposition is something He’s probably waiting to help with. If you could use a little holy cheerfulness to light up your face, here are some things to try.
- Start your day with prayer … invite Him to help you see the pockets of positive, cheerful, funny and joyful moments in your day.
- Step away from social media if it leads you to anxiety, jealousy, or comparison. Those are the things that steal our joy and squish your cheerful light.
- Feel the feelings and find the root. Sometimes people and things make us mad or disappointed or frustrated; that’s human. It’s the reaction to those emotions we need to consider. Being cheerful and positive doesn’t mean you scold yourself for getting mad because anger is a bad thing, it means we think, pray, and ponder, asking God to show us the root of the emotion. After a bit of thinking, it’s a powerful thing to ask God to show you the next step. If I’m mad or frustrated I will ask God to put that person in my path if I’m supposed to chat about it. If they don’t cross my path, I know I’m supposed to prayerfully hand Him the situation.
- Pray for people. Judgment can cloud our cheerfulness, disappointment in other people can cloud our cheerfulness, and unfulfilled expectations can cloud our cheerfulness. When any of these things happens, it can be such a powerful, positive lift in attitude to stop for a second and pray for that person or situation. Don’t ask God to change them or it, ask Him to change you … to bring joy to your heart. It feels so freeing and uplifting to desire another person's holiness.
- Throw your hissy fit on paper. Looking back through old prayer journals, I can tell my mood without even reading the words. When I come across something I wrote in upper-case letters with a dozen exclamation points, I know I was emptying my heart. The end of every rant should contain a prayer of surrender, perspective, and the promise to leave it there. The Father knows how you feel, but spitting it out only to Him can save you from making a situation worse by speaking the wrong words at the wrong time. Frustration tossed at the foot of the cross instead of on the ears of others always comes with a better ending. Spit it out and shut the book so you don’t drag the burden through your whole day.
- Give some cheer away, even if you don’t feel like you have much in your heart. The act of being generous and kind can bring more cheerful grace than you can imagine. Sprinkling cheer into someone else's situation will bounce back to yours. Write a little note, buy someone a coffee, or send someone a text or email about something positive you noticed about them. Lifting up another is a fabulous way to get a little lift yourself.
Let’s face it: Being grumpy isn’t a magnet for anything good. I keep remembering the words of Dan Meers: “We can rise and shine or rise and whine.” To add to that, I guess if we want holy cheerfulness we need to be shiny instead of whiny.
A Seed To Plant: Pick one of the cheerful boosting suggestions and put it into practice this week.
Blessings on your day!
Copyright 2020 Sheri Wohlfert
About the Author
Sheri is a Catholic wife, mom, speaker and teacher. She uses her great sense of humor and her deep faith to help others discover the joy of being a child of God. Her roots are in Kansas but her home is in Michigan. The mission of her ministry is to encourage others to look at the simple ways we can all find God doing amazing things smack dab in the middle of the laundry, ball games, farm chores and the hundred other things we manage to cram into a day. Sheri also writes at JoyfulWords.org.