By Joy Igbinedion
Flash back to a few years ago, in my cream coloured, short-sleeved blouse, and my navy blue, sleeveless dress… Oh yes, I just attempted to describe my secondary school uniform with fancy words; we all hated it! Back to the flash back; As I walked along the corridor tapping my fingers lightly on the railing, I ran into the chairman of my school’s board. ‘Good afternoon sir’, I said immediately. ‘Oh, my girl that is always smiling. How are you?’, he replied. He said those words every time he saw me, ‘my girl that is always smiling’. In fact, he told my mum when he met her that I was always smiling. Let’s come back to 2019. A few weekends ago, it was one of my best girl’s wedding. I was overjoyed. I really couldn’t stop smiling. Someone on my table said something and I laughed, and the next sentence I heard was, ‘Joy can laugh sha!’.
Okay, I have to admit, I laugh a lot. The first person that made me consciously realize it was the chairman of my secondary school’s board. Laughing is my go to expression. I laugh at the silliest things. I’m that girl who might burst out laughing in the middle of a serious conversation or meeting, just because something that has nothing to do with anything, sounded funny to me. And of course, it’s not my fault. ‘Whose fault is it?’, you may ask. I’ll tell you.
Over two decades ago, a beautiful young woman was rushed to the labour room. ‘Push’, the midwife said. ‘You can do this.’ she heard. A loving hand held on to hers, and she squeezed it through the pain. With all the strength she could muster, she pushed. All of a sudden, the sound of a tiny cry filled the room. And next thing she knew, she was holding the most beautiful baby girl she (and the world really) had ever seen. Precious little child. Was that a smile? I thought babies couldn’t smile until they were about six weeks old. Awwww, that definitely looks like a smile. What a sweet child!!! So they named her Joy. That sweet child is me, I am that sweet child. What do you expect? They named me Joy. That’s why I am always smiling and laughing. Joy is always bubbling on the inside of me.
Photo credit: Preslie hirsch on Unsplash.com
I have learned to smile and laugh through my pain. I have learned to laugh at myself when I’m being silly. No, wait. I didn’t really learn to smile and laugh through my pain, I just found myself laughing and smiling, even in my pain. But I learnt to feel that smile, and that laughter in my heart when all I can really feel is pain. I don’t know if that makes sense to you. In June of 2017, I got a message that changed everything forever. I remember going into an empty room and just wailing. I didn’t cry, I can’t call what happened in that room crying. I heard strange sounds coming from somewhere deep inside me. After that day, I shed some silent tears and then I moved on, or so I thought. Little did I know that something had shifted. I slowly but surely crept into a dark place. I questioned everything I once held true. I stopped doing the things I loved without even realising it. I was in a really bad place. But I didn’t stop smiling and laughing. Only a couple of people knew I was in a bad place. Sometimes, the smiles didn’t even get to my eyes but I smiled in my pain anyway.
You are probably still wondering what I am grateful for. It’s my name. JOY. I survived those dark days and nights because of the joy that was in me. Although buried beneath all the hurt and pain, it was there, alive. Every time someone mentioned my name, they spoke joy into my life. That’s how I see it. I was not happy, but I had joy. And that joy is what God used to pull me out of my dark place. On my birthday a couple of months ago, one of my friends said, ‘Your parents couldn’t have named you any better. You simply bring laughter and joy to everyone around you.’ I’m grateful that my parents gave me the best name in the world. A name that has a life of its own and consumes me and those around me. I’m grateful for the smiles God has put on people’s faces through me. It’s one of the best feelings in the world. Knowing God used you makes others happy. I’m grateful.
Featured photo credit: Sarah dorweiler on Unsplash.com