n 1978, gospel great Walter Hawkins released a song entitled “Be Grateful”. More than 40 years later, the first verse is cemented in my memory.
“God has not promised me sunshine
That’s not the way it’s supposed to be
But a little rain mixed with God’s sunshine
A little pain, makes me appreciate the good times
Be grateful, be grateful”
In looking back on 2021, Hawkins’ impassioned plea to understand that, while life will come with challenges, there is so much to be grateful for, has never rang truer. Over the years, we have seen some challenges. The foreclosure crisis, which wiped out generational wealth with the stroke of a pen. Banks that were too big to fail, seemed so small compared to the social unrest that took hold in major cities. We lost heroes, to both death and scandal. We’ve entered and exited wars around the globe. While right here at home, the fire of racism has been stoked with precision. Our health, due to a world pandemic is faulty, and our health systems seemed to be failing. We are still marching in the streets for voting rights protections and a woman’s reproductive health needs protection. We understand that no one promised us sunshine. Yet, a twist on Hawkins’ song reminds us that we can still smile.
In 2011, Kirk Franklin released a gospel song called “I Smile”. Borrowing some of its melody from the S.O.S. Band’s 1983 single “Tell Me If You Still Care”, the song rose to the top of the charts.
I dedicate this song
This song’s for you
Today’s a new day,
but there is no sunshine
Nothing but clouds,
and it’s dark in my heart
And it feels like a
Today’s a new day, where are my blue skies
Where is the love and the joy that you promised me
Tell me it’s alright
I almost gave up, but a power that I can’t explain
Fell from heaven
like a shower
I smile, even though
I hurt see I smile
I know God is working so I smile
Even though I’ve been here for a while
I smile, smile
In an interview about the song, Franklin said, “It is a declarative statement that I’m not going to live my life based on how I feel. I will live my life based on God’s word.” As a woman of faith and a legislator that knows we can work through most problems, in spite of all that we are facing as a nation, I can still smile. I welcome 2022 and wish each of you a Happy New Year!