It’s funny the rabbit trails our minds follow. I was just standing next to the dryer, folding my husband’s shirts, one day when I noticed it. The shirt in question was no longer white, but rather a baby blue because of a previous laundry incident (I admit: I rarely separate laundry as I was taught. Instead, I take the easy road and just throw it all in, hoping for the best. Sometimes it works out, and other times, we get to enjoy clothes with brand-new, unique colors. My family graciously wears them regardless… most of the time.)
Anyway, it was the new color of that used-to-be-white shirt that caused me to notice them: the unmistakable marks we leave on each other. I have forever changed the color of my husband’s shirt.
(This is where that rabbit trail comes into play.)
I started to wonder: how else have I left my mark on those around me?
Of course, with someone like my husband, there are plenty of tangible marks… like the messed up laundry and the various household items I’ve bought for him (like the ceramic coffee mug that looks like one of those paper, throw-away cups, or the super-comfy jacket hanging on the coat rack that speaks more of my obsession with Horny Toad than any interest he might have in the Pacific Northwest clothing company).
But what about the stuff that isn’t stored in hall closets or pantries, but rather in the deep crevasses of our soul?
There are way too many ways I might negatively affect those around me (check out Acts 14:2 and Proverbs 17:22 for starters). In fact, just like my laundry method, it’s a whole lot easier to negatively impact someone than it is to make a positive impact. We really have to try to leave a good mark. [And be thankful there’s grace to cover the moments we don’t.]
One translation of the second of those two verses goes like this: “A joyful heart is good medicine, but depression drains one’s strength.”
But you know what? I’m just going to come out and say it: we all go through periods of depression. We all whine and complain (probably a lot more than we might realize). So we’re all going to sap others’ strength at some point (or many points) along the way.
Maybe the purpose of this verse isn’t to beat us down even further when we’re already swimming in darkness, but rather to direct us to the way out: “a joyful heart is good medicine.”
It’s an amazingly contagious — yet often elusive — feeling. And like love, it’s not just a feeling, is it? It’s a living-breathing-tough-to-make choice.
We have to choose joy. Over and over and over again.
As Rick Warren reminds us in his series entitled Joy Is a Choice, “In the book of Philippians, Paul uses the word ‘joy’ 16 times in just four chapters. As a prisoner in a Roman jail, awaiting execution, it’s pretty amazing to think that he was able to write the most positive book of the Bible during one of the darkest times of his life.”
I don’t want to “sap your strength” every time we get together, with complaining and whining. You know – those people who make you think twice about answering their call on days when you just can’t take another stresser… I want to be the one who finds joy — choosing it against all odds — even in the darkness.
Together, maybe we can choose to leave joyful marks on each others’ lives?
This previously-white-now-blue t-shirt has got me pondering more ways I can positively color the lives of those around me, instead of “draining their strength” and forcing them to hide from or try to avoid the marks I might leave on their lives.
So much for a quick laundry break… time to get back to work ;).
// Portions of this is post were originally published to my personal blog before stillnotthereyet.com was born. 🙂