I’ve always prided myself on my ability to see the bright side. On any college exam, any personality quiz, any document that asked me to define my best characteristics, I listed ‘positive’ as one of the top three.
It has always been important, if not essential, for me to have a happy demeanor. For me to smile in the face of conflict and pain. For me to try to lift the spirits of those around me, as if it were my personal duty. For me to never let the world see me walking with my head down.
Blame it on my upbringing, blame it on my faith, blame it on naiveté or youth, but the truth is, I’ve always pushed to be this way. I’ve never seen positivity as a bad thing, even if it is a little too much sometimes.
I’ve always wanted to be the kind of person that you look at and say, “Wow, even through all of that, she’s happy.” Not for selfish reasons. Not because I want the world to view me with praise and reverence. But because I want to inspire. Because I want to make people see that even in all the pain of this world, there’s still hope. There’s still love. There’s still light.
I want to be the kind of person that people can depend on. I want to be the one they run to when they’re feeling lost, or down, or defeated, and know that I will not only lend them my shoulder and ears, but be the one to brighten their spirits again.
I want to be the person who makes someone laugh after one of their longest, most painful days. I want to be the person that brings sunshine to the darkness. I want to be the person who helps people see the glass half-full, even after it has been empty for so long.
I want to be the person who encourages people after heartbreak, who motivates them after purposelessness, who inspires them in their weakness, who loves them after loss. I want to be the one who shows the world God’s love and points a light to Him.
But sometimes it’s so hard to want to be this person, this shining light that points to something so beautiful, when you know you’re not always in the right direction. Sometimes it’s so hard to want to be this person who helps others when you’re painfully aware of all the ways you can’t, or haven’t been able to help yourself.
Sometimes it feels so conceited to think that you’re going to make a difference, that your smile or laugh or words will heal someone’s heart—believing that is believing you have some sort of magical power, and isn’t that a little wrong? Isn’t that a little selfish? Isn’t that a little big-headed?
Sometimes I try to be this positive person, but then I get lost in my own head, thinking about how broken I am. Sometimes I try to bring light to others, but inside I’m really feeling defeated.
Sometimes I try so hard to be this perfect person, this Christ-like woman, this shining example, and I feel hypocritical. How can I be a light to others when I’m so dang imperfect? When there’s so much I don’t understand? When I haven’t walked in the shoes of the people I want so desperately to support?
Sometimes I make promises and don’t keep them. Sometimes I say one thing and do another. Sometimes I take one too many tequila shots on a Friday night, or fall into relationships that I know aren’t good for me.
Sometimes I lie to myself and make excuses. I try to cover up my bad patches instead of acknowledging where I’ve truly messed up.
Because it’s so hard to look at yourself with love when you know all the ways you’ve fallen short. It’s so hard to imagine bringing goodness and happiness and love and light to others when you know how many times you’ve slipped into darkness on your own.
It’s so hard to reflect God’s love when you know you’re far from perfect.
But maybe I’m still learning that it’s not about that at all—it’s not about me at all.
Maybe it’s about using the things I have, the things I’ve been given, the pieces of myself that have always looked at the world with love, and sharing them. Maybe it’s about finding a way to spread happiness through me, without it being about me.
Not about what I can do, but about what God can do.
And so I just want to be a light. Someone who smiles and brightens a little corner of the world, someone who spreads Christ’s love, and in turn leads one single person out of their destruction. I’m not prideful or naïve enough to say that I can change the world, but I just want to be a small sliver of brightness in all that dark.
I just want to be an imperfect, shining mess of God’s love.
I just want to be someone who smiles, who laughs, who loves, who listens. Someone who, through faith, can bring a little bit of His wonder to a world that so desperately needs it.
This piece originally appeared at Thought Catalog, published with permission.