Myth #4: Christians who aren’t cheerful at all times are a bad witness.
I’m not actually sure where this myth began. Perhaps it’s the numerous verses about cheerfulness we find in the Bible, perhaps it’s confusion over the difference between joy and happiness, but somewhere along the way, we began to believe that Christians are required to always have a smile on their faces.
A good portion of the time, however, that’s a put-on to hide our true feelings from others. Perhaps we’re worried that if we open up, they’ll reject us and make us feel more alone. Maybe we’re not ready to talk about our trials. Or maybe we truly believe that we’ll be judged for our feelings.
However, when we act in an inauthentic way, it’s for the convenience of others, not our own good. It’s certainly not for the benefit of nonbelievers looking in. The world doesn’t need more Christians who seem to have everything together. They need to see real people who struggle with trials and yet experience true joy while acknowledging their own pain.
It’s only through that example, that display of “peace that passes understanding” (Philippians 4:7), that others will want to experience what we experience, to know whom we know.
If you recognize yourself in one of those descriptions, take a moment to acknowledge that you’re allowed to feel what you feel. Bring your feelings to God in prayer, even if you don’t know what to ask or say.
The next time a friend asks how you’re doing, instead of replying, “Fine,” try something like, “Actually, not so well.” I think you’ll be surprised by the understanding and empathy you find from your brothers and sisters in Christ, most of whom are probably going through similar trials.
It’s only by rejecting surface-level Happy Face Christianity that we can experience the depths of true faith and comfort.
Carla Laureano is the RITA Award-winning author of contemporary inspirational romance and Celtic fantasy (as C. E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons, where she writes during the day and cooks things at night. Her latest book is Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe.
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