(originally posted january 14, 2009)

I realized something walking around different stores picking some things up today. I went to three stores – Walmart, Sam’s, and Food Lion – in that order. I didn’t realize this change until I was leaving Sam’s. Then when I was driving to Food Lion I started thinking about it and realized I did the same thing at Walmart, and even did the same thing walking around campus today to class and to get my books.

For the past few months, whenever someone would ask how I was doing I would respond with, “Eh, not too bad.” It was the typical response that I didn’t even have to think about. When someone would ask, “You doing alright?” I’d respond with an easy, “Yeah for the most part.” I would throw the answer out and then move on, not even asking them how they were doing because I didn’t wanna hear how great they were. Today, without even thinking, I’ve answered every single person that has asked “How ya doing?” with a simple “Pretty good” or “Can’t complain at all” and a smile. Then I would ask how they were doing and wait for them to answer.

Ok, Jonathan, why’s that a big deal?

To me, it just reinforces that I’m getting back to being me. For months, without thinking, I would say something that was dowsed in negativity. That’s not me. That’s not me at all.

The more I thought about all of this, and the stuff I was doing without thinking, the more I realized I really like myself the way I am now. I’m walking around with a smile on my face. I’ve got a song in my head that I’m constantly mentally dancing to. I’m doing whatever it takes to make the people around me happy. I’m doing all of this without thinking about it.

I keep saying I’m back to being me. That’s true to a degree, but in a way it’s not. Some of the stuff I’m doing and some of the ways I’m acting are like I used to act. Other things are completely new, and I absolutely love it. I’m at a complete peace with, well, everything. I look forward to going to class. In undergrad, I absolutely hated going to evangelism class. Just after reading the syllabus for this one I was looking forward to going the first time.

I love sitting back and looking at how God used the absolute darkest period of my life and took me from there to what is looking like it could turn into the best period of it. I wrote a few months ago that “every heart has to break at least once. That’s how we find out what truly holds it togethers.” I made that up on the spot but I’ve loving finding out how true it is.

Before July, I never knew what it felt like to truly hurt. I didn’t know what emotional pain was. I thought I did, but I had no clue. I didn’t know what it was like to have something put you in a depression that you didn’t know how to get out of and tha took over your life completely at times. I also didn’t realize how easy it was to fake it and make people think you’re alright when really you’re nowhere close to it. After going through all of this, and realizing that there are people everywhere going through some of the same stuff, that are hurting just as bad and who really could use to smile, if only for a second. I know how much I appreciated the people that did the little things that made me smile whether they knew it or not.

After coming to these realizations, I came to the conclusion that I want to be the person that makes people smile and sometimes all that takes is holding the door for them, saying hey in the hallway, or even commenting on their status on Facebook. I’ve always said it’s the little things in life that count. Everyone can do the normal things, but it’s that extra step that really makes an impact on people.

I’m starting to feel a lot like my grandpa. I never understood why he walked around all the time whistling or smiling. I never understood why he had to go up and say hey to every single person in a restaurant that he knew. Now I realize that the whistling, or the extra bounce in his step, or the smile on his face when he said hey always made me smile. It always put me in a better mood. And that’s why he did it. And that’s what I want to do.

You can’t truly get formed until you’re broken down. You can’t be turned into what God wants you to be until you break down, give up, and stop doing what you want to think He wants you to do and actually do what He really wants you to do. At that point, it’s not easy, but at least you can smile while doing it. So thank you for breaking my heart. Thank you for ruining the things that I used to love so much. Thank you for making me question everything. I forgive you for all of it. I really do. If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t be nearly as happy as I am now. I may have still been smiling, but it wouldn’t be like this.

With all that being said, smile at the random person in the hall. Say hey to the kid you pass walking to class. And if things suck for you right now, remember what’s important and get back to that. It’ll get better. I promise. And I don’t break promises.

Say your prayers and take your vitamins.

Have a nice day.