Things can be different. We can be different. We can be joyful over hugs from our children and friends instead of being depressed over a lost set of keys. We can smile when we think about the waitress with a slight accent and big dimples who went out of her way to get our order right. We can notice the sun, moon, and stars and incredible sunrises and sunsets that frame our days, including the hardest and most sorrowful ones. We can learn from rain and rivers that fall and flow, fall and flow century after century without looking back and creating memorials and hashtags to rocks and bridges passed along the way. 

Life is hard for everyone, each of us in different ways. If life seems too easy, you may be missing something. We would do well to learn to fall and flow like rain and rivers over rocks without bitterly ruminating over every boulder we’ve left behind. The notion of “spending our lives” is very real, with moments frantically, angrily hurled like dimes and quarters into wishing wells and slot machines, wasted and irretrievable. Bullets shot, knives slashed, and words scattered like poison in the wind.

We’ve flowed over many rocks in this country. Millions have been dashed on them and lost their lives. Those rocks are behind us. And those of us still flowing need to live in the present, teaching our children how to be kind and joyful and resilient.

We need more Nelson Mandelas and Corrie Ten Booms. More Immaculee Ilibagizas and Darold Biggers. More Rachelle Friedman Chapmans and Bethany Hamiltons. More Amish. We choose whether to be part of the living or part of the living dead.

Don’t let our family’s smiling faces deceive you. We’ve suffered plenty. We thoughtfully and deliberately smile and embrace the days anyway. We trust the Hand that gives them, we see the bigger picture, and we acknowledge our freedom and responsibility to choose joy over bitterness, life over death.