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You Can Smile

by Laney Rene

When Clayton and l were engaged and a few months away from getting married, he would come straight to my house every day after work. One day when he got to my house, I could tell something was troubling him. Clayton’s countenance was typically light, but on this day I could feel his heaviness. I started asking questions as I typically do, trying to get to the bottom of what was up. Each time I asked, he would say, “I’m fine,” yet I could see on his face that everything was not fine.

Something I’ve learned about my husband since we’ve been married is that prying doesn’t work on him; I have to give him time. That day, I remember feeling a gentle nudge in my spirit to stop prying and give him time. As we sat on the couch, instead, I began just speaking over him what was true. “I love you. I’m so proud of who you are. You’re an amazing man. You’ve been made new. God has you. There is nothing to fear.”

I remember tears started rolling down his face, and he immediately began to tell me what was on his mind. He thought I was going to be disappointed with him, that I wouldn’t see him the same because, in his eyes, he had really messed up. Yet in that moment, all I could see and sense was how loved he was and how God was looking at him with such pride and awe.

As tears continued to stream down his face, he looked at me like, “Well, now that you know what’s wrong, what do you have to say to me?” And without a second thought, the words that came to my heart and out of my mouth were, “Clayton, you can smile. Right now, you don’t have to wait another moment.”

So often when we fail, we feel like we have to hide, and we often feel like we need to sit and think about what we’ve done, yet God never asked us to do that. Instead, He tells us to remember what HE has done.

In that moment, the reason I was able to tell Clayton he could smile had absolutely nothing to do with Clayton. The reason He could smile in the midst of his shame was because of the righteousness that had been imputed to him when he received Jesus.

Living in this gift of righteousness feels unnatural at first. Our flesh likes performance-based religion because our flesh likes to feel in control. As humans, it is our nature to want to be in control of our plans, our future, our family, and even our own righteousness. Many of us like to feel like we’re “good” at being a Christian. Oftentimes we subconsciously think we got something good out of life because we performed well, yet this is the opposite of the gospel.

God’s gift to you was that while you were still “bad,” while you still didn’t measure up, while you still fell short, Jesus, being perfect, made you right with Him. He made you whole. He made you pure, lovely, and forever pleasing to Him (Romans 5:8).

So I want to ask you: What have you been carrying? Where do you feel like you’ve been striving to earn His love for you? What thing has the enemy made you believe that you must hide? Where do you feel pressure to “perform”?

The invitation for you today, daughter, is to “let go.” Stop trying to be what you think everyone expects you to be and fall into His perfection, His righteousness, His strength, and His supply. You can smile, even in the midst of what you’ve been going through, because God is smiling at you.

Laney Rene joins her grandparents, James and Betty, this Monday and Tuesday on LIFE TODAY. Excerpted from Daughter by Laney Rene. Copyright ©2023 Laney Rene. Used by permission of Breakfast For Seven.