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When the Stakes Are High—Smile!

I'm usually pretty good at laughing at myself. You know, when the stakes are low.

When things get stressful, though, and nobody else is laughing?

Yeah, that kills my good humour.

The past couple of months have marked a struggle to build competence in what I do. New tasks are always daunting, but new tasks along with the weight of dozens of people's expectations are crippling for someone like me. I wish I could say I'm a cauldron of confidence, but that would be a bald-faced lie. When I learn a job, I want to learn it well. But when that doesn't happen as quickly as I'd like, my confidence takes a hit.

A few weeks ago, I had just such a day. I went into the task as a bundle of anxiety, wound myself tighter with every second, and drove home in tears, nerves absolutely fried. It wasn't even a bad day, per se. I just felt like I wasn't improving fast enough, that I still wasn't competent enough, that maybe I never would be.

And in all that drama and angst, did I pray that day? Actually surrender to God?

Barely. If at all.

You can't always laugh when things go wrong. Sometimes they're not funny. Cold gravy or a meal mix-up loses amusement when someone both expects and deserves better. But we are supposed to have joy, and by its spiritual definition, joy exists outside of circumstances. It is supposed to transcend our anxiety, our situations. And it says: maybe we shouldn't take ourselves so seriously.

I know it's easier said than done, and I know sometimes it's not in us to smile or thank God when life feels like a thousand pounds on our chests. But let's try today. Let's lift our faces to God today, stay in close contact with Him wherever we are, be thankful however we can. Let's try to lighten up, remembering that the stakes are usually lower than they feel and that God is above it all. He wants to see us smile.

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