The girl who laughs

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What is the best compliment you have ever been paid?

One of the nicest things I have ever being told happened quite unexpectedly some months after I graduated from bible college. I had frequented a local coffee shop just a few paces away from campus over the three years I was there, and a few months after graduating found myself in the area… and in the coffee shop again. The waiter looked at me somewhat quizzically as he showed me to a table, and then broke out into a wide smile: “Oh I remember you!” he said, “You’re the girl who laughs!”

The girl who laughs.

He didn’t know my name, or anything about my life or skills or resume. He remembered me as the girl that laughed. I don’t know that I’ve ever been more thrilled, more touched, more encouraged by a compliment.

The memory of this conversation came back to me as I fussed with my children this morning. Disobedience often leads to snappy words, to firmly articulated threats consequences, to tears. I thought: “Wow, I hope my children don’t remember me as the Mom who shouted.”

I want them to remember me as the Mom who was there. The Mom who laughed. The Mom who was silly. The Mom who told stories. The Mom who prayed. The Mom who welcomed friends. The Mom who loved God, who loved life, who loved them.

Sounds dreamy, right? Who doesn’t want to be remembered like that by their kids?

But this got me to a second wave of thinking: I so often undervalue the laughing, the silly, the stories, the prayer… because I’m busy valuing my performance in managing my household or balancing our budget. This process of letting go of my concern about messiness, about pretty decor, my anxiety about planning children’s’ parties.

I know that, in the scheme of things, those details don’t matter. I need to be reminded of that. I forget when I spend too much time in my own head.

But I remember when I think of some of the amazing people around me. I think of Kate, the girl who loves. Of Amanda, the woman who welcomes (her home is home to a community of nearly 200 college students). Of Bethany, my friend who laughs. Of Ruth, who encourages. Of Rachel, who gives. Of Tanya, who perseveres wuth joy. Of Laeya, who remembers (what a gift it is to be remembered. Truly.) Of Johanna, who lives with an open heart and open arms. Of Sarah, who hopes. Of Kim, who gives thanks. Of Jen, who serves. Of Liz, who prays. I think of these precious friends, and dozens more who live lives of love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, faithfulness, kindness and self-control.

No doubt they (and no doubt you), may sometimes do a mental self-assessment and find themselves lacking. “I’m not __________ enough,” or “I’m bad at ___________________” or “I dropped the ball on ____________________”, we think. I look back at my week and might describe myself as the girl who gave it my best shot, who tried but sometimes failed, the girl who meant well but didn’t get it right.

But we don’t write our own report cards. Thank God.

Jesus has given us His transcript, and every failing and fault which we might use to assign “F’s” to ourselves has been nailed to the cross with him. There is new life in Christ, a new hope that comes from the Holy Spirit in us – and though we may sometimes be discouraged that the process is taking too long, and the progress is painfully slow…

Don’t forget that it IS progress, pilgrim.

From my perspective, I see traces of His grace at work. His love in the girl who loves. His spirit in the woman who serves. His hospitality in my friend who welcomes. His blessing in the one who gives thanks. And His joy in the girl who laughs.

Because of Jesus, I am the girl who laughs.

Who are you?

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7 thoughts on “The girl who laughs”

  1. Great post in so many ways Bronwyn. I hope it can also hopefully remind people to encourage others. Maybe we think of a certain person as the ________ one, but have we ever actually told them how much we appreciate this quality in them? An encouraging word can go so far in another’s life. Just like the waiter’s simple comment that you were the girl who laughed. : )

  2. Regarding those possible limitations you mention, Bronwyn, I figure what good would it do to focus on my shortcomings? God doesn’t.

  3. I read something your wrote months ago and then I “lost” you. SO glad to see your post today over at (in)courage!!! I am adding you to my feedly list.

    I’m the girl who gets scared, but is learning to trust and jump anyway!

  4. This encouragement was so valuable to me, on the day found it, because I was attempting to host a party for 11 people in our Mississippi apartment (without enough seats or dishes or appropriate cookware). I was overwhelmed until you put words to my needing to only offer a welcome and let God bless it into hospitality. Thank you for giving me those precious words friend. They helped ease my anxieties and enjoy the preparations and party. You gave me a beautiful gift.

    1. This brought tears to my eyes, Amanda. We miss you sorely, but I’m so glad the folks in Mississippi get to experience some of your warmth? By the way, did the kids tell you I taught them how to spell Mississippi: “MI-SSI-SSI-PPI….. OH NO! Don’t pee pee on your eye!” They thought that was pretty hilarious.

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Bronwyn Lea

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Photo credit: Christa Norman, Mel Draper Photography, and Jonathan Summer