I don’t know about you, but to me, life can feel heavy sometimes.

We all carry different loads. We are all on different life journeys. Thus, learning to set our heavy loads down and stop to soak in life can sometimes seem like more of a chore than just lugging those burdens along with us.

But in refusing to set these burdens down and take time to enjoy life, we actually miss life altogether. We get so busy doing that we forget how to be. We miss the simple things like sunrises and sunsets, a child's giggle, or even an unexpected smile from a stranger. We forget how to be content in the little things, the quiet moments, the laughter, and the lower expectations.

I am talking to myself while I write this. It may come with increasing age, but at some point, we all stop and realize that life is passing way too fast and we’re not making the most of it. I definitely haven’t laughed quite as much as I should, and I have allowed people and things to keep me from doing that.

We are living in an awful time many never expected to see. From a political standpoint, things seem impossible to overcome, and it’s hard to trust anyone in office. Everyday life is expensive, relief seems unthinkable, and turning on the news only makes life more depressing. Yet, in the midst of all this, there are still reasons to smile.

We must learn to lean away from material things, the unkept promises of politicians, and the unmet expectations of others, leaning instead upon the love God offers to our hearts and minds, an opportunity to rest and enjoy the simple things in life. We can also lighten this heavy burden by laughing at our shortcomings and giving grace to others. For myself, I am learning not to take everything so seriously. At the end of the day, we’re all human beings – we will make mistakes!

I write to share encouragement with you, but please don’t think for one minute that I live in some fairytale world or that I haven’t experienced bad days. After my article last week, I think some readers actually thought that. Boy, that couldn’t be farther from the truth!

I have experienced things no one would want to deal with, but rather than dwelling on those things, I am trying to share that there is light at the end of the tunnel. You can get through these hard things, and you will be stronger for going through them.

So, today I pray you won’t feel alone. I pray you are met with a smile from a stranger. I pray something makes you laugh so hard you cry. And I hope you realize that not everyone will meet your expectations.

So hang your to-do list on the fridge for a few minutes longer and watch a beautiful sunset filled with colors that only God above could paint. Life is short – enjoy it!

Ashley Carter is a wife, mother, and grandmother living in Elmore County, where she and her husband run Farm to Table Living and Carter Farms. Ashley serves as Controller and Executive Assistant at 1819 News. She is currently working on an inspirational book of short stories. To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email ashley.carter@1819news.com.

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