When Everyone Is Smiling- But You.

In Advice and Encouragement, Relationships by Debra Fileta

Have you ever looked around and noticed that everyone seemed to be smiling?  Everyone, that is, but you.  

One of the most significant things I remember about my battle with depression was that it always seemed like everyone else was happy, while I felt as though I was drowning in despair.  Because of my deep struggle, It was so hard to connect with the world around me.  No one seemed to know; but worse yet, no one seemed to want to know.

Sometimes, in the midst of our struggles, we can feel utterly alone.  I think that’s one of the factors that makes struggle even more difficult.  No matter what your individual struggle may be- it can be so personal, so raw, and so overwhelming that it’s hard to believe anyone could possibly understand, much less care.

We live in a world in which we’re trained to put our best face forward.  And sometimes, that can make the concept of struggle and suffering seem so taboo.  There’s no room for the tears, the pain, and the hurt in a world in which everyone’s supposed to smile.  And with each passing day, we feel more and more alone.

I’ve learned a lot about suffering over the past few years.  More than I ever wanted to know.  But one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is that though my struggles may be unique to me, I am not alone in my struggles.

All around us there are hundreds and thousands of people who are all feeling the sting of pain, the hurt of isolation, and the fear of what’s to come.  At any given moment, there could be someone on the same street, in the same church, and even in the same family who is battling their own war, unbeknownst to you.

When I finally started talking about my pain, I realized that there were so many others on their own journey, hoping, longing, and praying for the day when someone would open their arms and open their heart.   Someone who would listen, someone who would care.

And so many times, when I opened my heart- I found that behind every smile, there was almost always some sort of a wound…

The young woman who lost her mother suddenly in a tragic car accident….

The bride-to-be, heartbroken by the abandonment of her fiance’, and shattered by the broken engagement- the loss of her hopes and dreams…

The friend who has spent years hoping and longing for a pregnancy, only to receive the devastating news of a miscarriage…

The man who is desperately putting the pieces his life back together after learning of his wife’s affair after 15 years of marriage…

The newly-weds who after 12 gut-wrenching months decided that their marriage was headed toward a divorce…

The young bachelor drinking his woes away, alone in his city apartment,  just longing for companionship and love…

The mother of a joyful 3 year old, desperately trying to make sense of her daughter’s unexpected battle with cancer…

Disease, Depression, Death.  Abandonment, Betrayal and Pain.  Lost Hopes, Shattered Dreams, Broken Futures.  Life isn’t always what we expect it to be.

We are all in this battle called life.  Some of us are called to fight harder, and some of us are called to fight longer- but fight we all do.

Through my personal struggles, one thing I learned was that if I were to let my struggle define me- it would win.  My struggle is a part of me, but I am so much more than my struggle.

That truth freed me to begin healing, because instead of allowing my struggles to isolate me from the world around me, I have slowly learned to allow the wounds in my life to open the door of my heart, allowing others to come, to hear, to see, and to know.  I’m slowly learning to let down the mask. And slowly, I began to heal…

But this didn’t come without some trial and error.

As you go through life you realize that there are those who can be trusted, and those who can’t. Instead of simply blocking everyone out, I’ve learned to identify those who are safe, and I’ve learned to let them in.

Because at the end of the day, for the potential of any joy to exist- we must realize that we can’t live this life alone.  We’re not made to.

We were created by the very God who allowed His wounds to draw us near to Him, because it is only because of His wounds, that we are able to be healed.  I am thankful for a God who risked ridicule and misunderstanding, choosing vulnerability and love, just so that he could be nearer to me. Just so that He could be closer to you.

Whatever you are going through this very moment, please know this- you are not alone.  You never will be.  Reach up to the God who knows your pain, and has experienced your struggle.  And then, take courage and reach out…

You’ll never know what’s behind their smiles, until you take a risk to show them what’s behind yours.  

For more on becoming healthy and whole,  pick up my book, Are You Really OK?

On the Love + Relationships podcast, we are doing a new four-part series based on my book Are You Really OK? At the end of this series, we are offering a FREE ARE YOU REALLY OK? BOOK CLUB! All you have to do to join the book club is listen to the four parts, order a copy of Are You Really OK? and commit to working through it! Then, grab a ticket to join our Book Club on January 26th where I’ll be taking your questions and hearing your personal stories, and processing the book together with you!

If you liked this article, you’ll also like:  The Darkness of Depression and The Christian Response & When Prayer Doesn’t Erase The Pain

Debra is a Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in dating, marriage, and relationship issues, along with a spectrum of mental health disorders and issues. She’s the author of True Love DatesChoosing MarriageLove in Every SeasonAre You Really Ok?, and Married Sex. She’s also the host of the Love + Relationships Podcast, a hotline-style show where people call in to get their relationship questions answered!

Her popular relationship advice blog TrueLoveDates.com reaches millions of people each year with the message of healthy relationships! Connect with her on Instagram,  Facebook or Twitter!