My kid brother is out serving a two year mission for our church, and is having some difficulty adjusting to the fact that not everyone out there has a joyful heart. This is probably because he has a particularly soft, kind heart himself. However, I think one encounter is always one too many, and he’s had several (dozen).

I worry about my girls meeting these people with less-than-joyful hearts. I admit (shamefacedly) that I harbor bitter memories of some encounters like the ones my brother is describing. Times when people just seem to …  explode from the absolute lack of happiness within themselves.

In seems that some people don’t just have a case of a not-so-joyful heart; they actually have downright grumpy hearts. And since they have grumpy hearts, they feel this strange need to try and make sure everyone else has grumpy hearts too. It’s kind of like when people listen to nasty music and feel the need to roll down the windows and pump up the volume. It’s like they’re all, “Oh, YEAH?!? You think I’m a MEAN person?! Well, I can make YOU feel bitter and cranky TOO!! So take THAT!!!”

Cranky people use a lot of punctuation. Don’t they know there’s a shortage?

And, you know, if they (or any of you, dear readers) feel the need to dump some of those extra exclamation marks somewhere, I’m always on the lookout for more punctuation. I take ’em and clean all the cranky off of ’em and sell ’em on eBay.

It’s okay to be carting around some extra punctuation sometimes, you know? No one’s going to be calm and period-like all the time. I kind of expect that anyone might need a break from sheer awesomeness on occasion. But to be that way to perfect strangers? Or to children? Or someone who’s going out of their way to solve your problems? Yup, I’ve seen grumpy-hearted people dump buckets of precious “!!!” on people’s heads in each of those situations, along with many other endangered marks (@#$%**, for example).

And there’s more at stake here than endangered punctuation, dear to my heart though that topic is. Endangered hearts worry me more. Grumpy hearts are more contagious than Ebola. I understand that when you’re miserable, you don’t want to be alone. However, infecting everyone else’s hearts really only isolates you more as everyone around you turns into a pack of snarling, snapping wolves, determined to bite as many people as possible.

Try taking your cranky “!!!” to someone you trust.  A friend? A relative? God? A blank page?

Don’t carry them around everywhere. They rot.

They stink.

They ruin you from the inside out.

Don’t expect someone to walk up and yank your cankering wounds away from you. Share the burden and while it might not disappear, you’ll find it easier to carry.

Don’t let it destroy you.

I almost did, once. Long ago. I don’t talk about it now — I only mention it to give credibility to my urging.

Cranky hearts suck. Don’t beat others over the head with them; just let them go.

And those of you who are naturally joyful hearted, like my brother, don’t give up on the rest of us. You’re a gift from God to someone struggling. You keep up a supply of happy, clean “!!!” for the rest of us.

We need you. We love you, and we love to hate you for being happier than us. But we learn to be better by watching you.

Happy “!!!” to you all.


About Carolynn the Dyer

If I've learned one thing by having three children in four years, it's that babies are not, in fact, the best birth control. ... Okay, just kidding. I've really learned that laughter is the only way to survive the wilds of parenthood, and life in general. Also, that it is indeed possible to do dishes, parent, and carry on a conversation at the same time. If that sounds like fun, or just impossible, then come join me on my blog--and join me in the jungle.
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