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Choosing Joy

A Chance Meeting

I will never forget turning the corner and seeing her for the first time.  She radiated a smile that seized my heart and my eyes would not let go.  Who was this young girl, and what was the source of her light?

Not wanting to leave her presence, I changed my direction and walked alongside her.  She was like a ray of sunshine on a winter day and I desired to bask as long as possible in the warmth she emanated.

Desiring to learn more about this young woman, I asked her a question.  She answered with confidence, offering no apology for her severe speech impediment.  I struggled to pick out words that would help me catch what she was trying to say.  Some words came through, but most of our communication consisted of smiles and nods.  For this reason, I never learned her name.

The Silent Teacher

Reaching her destination, I turned to face my new companion and focus on her angelic face.  Words were not important as our spirits connected, and in a few brief minutes, she conveyed the lesson I hope I never forget.  Joy is not dependent upon circumstances, but choices.

This young woman was confined to a wheelchair.  Her feet and hands were twisted and bent, but her face, oh her face!  Dark, thick hair cascaded past her thin shoulders, framing the most contented, joyful countenance I have ever seen.  There was no hint of self-pity or loathing for her situation.  She had long risen above that.  Sitting before me was an individual who understood her worth and the purpose of her existence.

We are all crippled in one way or another.  Our disabilities may not be physically obvious, but we each struggle with some form of handicap.  It’s easy to let circumstances or weaknesses tarnish our self-worth and get in the way of reaching our potential.  This young woman chose to find joy in her travels through this earthly existence, despite the detours, peeks, and valleys that cluttered her path.  It’s all about choices.

In one small meeting, a wise young girl brightened my life with her smiles and laughter.  I can still feel the warm hug we shared before parting.  Was it a coincidence I came across her that day?  I like to think it was in the stars and she was sent to remind me that I am responsible for my own happiness.  I may never see her again, but her light and example will remain, filling me with the peace and joy that comes from knowing who I am and why I am here.

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