SGLY: The return to joy

By Tiffany Chartier
Special to the Van Alstyne Leader

In the 1989 film Parenthood, actor Steve Martin plays a stressed father trying to “dazzle” his boss while juggling family tensions. His character is emotionally exhausted as we peer into a scene of him having a heated discussion with his wife. His wife asks, “Do you really have to go?” Martin’s character spews a reply between gritted teeth: “My whole life is HAVE TO.”

Parenthood speaks outside of punch lines and into a universal truth: Life is hard.

But as Martin’s character reevaluates the whole of his life, he comes to understand something that might universally be known but not universally practiced: Life is hard, but it does not have to be lived as a hardship.

A personal burden. Anguish. Misfortune. These are words that most can define by experience. But our experiences, as brutal of teachers as they may be, do not define us without our permission. So, the question begets itself: What do we permit in the shaping of our position - the position in which we live life?

The text commonly known as the Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi offers a sturdy framework; a position to live a life with bold contentment:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek

To be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.


To be an instrument of peace, we must allow God’s love to fill us to the point of overflow, for in the overflow, we spill love and grace like a fragrant offering to others and, in doing so, cannot help but get some on ourselves. Without love as our motivation, bitterness and resentment splinter our foundation. Life becomes a “have to” instead of a “get to.”

Thoughts spoken in daylight and harsh words tucked in the quiet of our minds often dictate our mood. We become reactive, taxed with fatigue and anxiety, unmotivated to do more than the least of what is expected. And before we even realize it, we have gone a day without laughter. Perhaps longer.

I recently saw a post that prompted me to think about the importance of self-care: “You learned to laugh before you learned to talk.” I am sure there are scientific reasons for this truth, but I choose to think upon this post as a kind reminder: Speak to your joys more than your problems.

Infuse the strength and love of the Lord into your daily living and He will secure your position on a higher view – one that will enable and empower you to be an instrument of peace even with life’s sufferings and adversities. A higher-view living will eventually produce a resolute authenticity to our loving, of self and others. In doing so, love will overflow in the return to joy.

SGLY, dear reader. (Smile, God Loves You.)

Tiffany Chartier

Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian author and opinion columnist. Submit feedback and connect for more soul lifts on Facebook: Tiffany Kaye Chartier; Instagram:@tiffanysgly; and Twitter: @tiffanychartier. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.