Growing up, I was called Little Mary Sunshine more than once. John calls me sparkly. I was often asked "Are you really this happy all the time?"
Some people could see past it though, to the turmoil underneath it all. It was there for a long time, and it is something I still struggle with on occasion. Some people just have a sense of these things. I have been told frequently over the years "You have to let people in. You don't have to put on a smile all of the time. People don't know what you need if you don't let them know."
God gives us community for so many reasons. We all have something to give others, and we need to be prepared to receive from others in turn. We should share our lives with the people closest to us. If you don't let people in on your joy or your trials, you are missing out. By no means do you or I have to go around spilling our difficulties on everyone we meet, but you will know who to talk to about what and when you should do it.
This is something I am learning to do. It is not in my nature, and was not something that was nurtured in me. I was taught that you keep things to yourself. That you never want to be a bother to people, and that if you really ever let people know the real you, or your struggles, they won't love you and respect you. So I learned to hide my problems.
In my desire not to 'bother' anyone with my problems, and by not opening myself up to be vulnerable to the people I trust and love, I had placed myself in a little box, isolated and disconnected.
I am learning to be more honest and open when something is wrong. And I continue to be free in my smiles and laughing because that is the real me too. I really was and am pretty happy most of the time. It isn't a lack of problems, but I am naturally more likely than not to genuinely smile anyhow. There really is more good than bad, and always something to be glad about.
Thankfully, there are many people in my life who love the smile and love the person behind it, problems and all. And they encourage me and teach me and are here for me in good times and bad. And that makes me ever so thankful.