“Never let anyone steal your joy.” Me, Debra Westbrook
Growing up, I was part of the generation that ran outside to get the Sunday paper that was delivered to our door. I loved reading the comics and I loved Peanuts, especially Charlie Brown. His imperfect, bumbling, insecure, and insignificant life made me laugh. And Lucy – well she was the forerunner of a generation of haters soon to come. They always made me laugh or even cry. I love this cartoon below.
Why do we let people get in our face, invade our place of joy, and touch our substance? A friend once said to me “Child, don’t let them touch your substance.” I didn’t get it at first but then he proceeded to explain it to me. Substance means that part of you that makes you, YOU. That inner depth, feeling, thinking, quirky, unique, and creative person that YOU (and me) really are. That part that God said is wonderfully formed and beautifully made. No one can touch that. No one, so don’t give them access.
So here comes Charlie Brown, beaming, laughing, and dancing with joy after a home run. “You?” Sally Brown exclaims. Ever been there? I think all of us have at some point. She reached out with her words to crush, annihilate, and destroy any bit of possibility and hope within him to be HIM. Maybe she didn’t mean to, but she did. She touched that part of him that believed he could rise above the status quo and be someone or somebody for even one minute. With that home run, which I am sure surprised Charlie Brown himself, he vindicated himself in the face of all those preconceived notions family and friends had about him.
Well, we don’t know what Charlie Brown did after that but I know what I might do with a comment like that. I could laugh it off, but feel devastated inside. I might ignore it, but that isn’t likely. I could even laugh along with the condescension pretending like it didn’t affect me. But knowing now, what I may not have known years ago, I would realize that those words cannot and should not penetrate who I am.
What do I do? I have this inner place in me, the secret place where I pray, talk, and meet with God. It is that place where I am unconditionally allowed to be me by a God that created me, knows me through and through, and loves me. When words try to hit that place and get in, I have a protective shield that flings them back in grace. Now, the person saying something like that to me may never know this about me for I could be smiling all the time. But, eventually I run to the Lord, like Charlie Brown, dancing and leaping with great joy and He says “Great job”, with no condescension, no condemnation, and no sarcasm.