Monday, August 3, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Smile


The Power of A Smile
A devotional Jessica Brodie

You know how those famous actresses and models seem to light up the world with their mega-watt smiles? It’s not just because of their big, toothy grins, either—it’s as though their very eyes are sparkling with warmth and laughter, sending lightning bolts of friendliness that dazzle you from head to toe. They don’t even need to be gorgeous, though most of them are. That smile does it all.

I read once that it’s because they’re really smiling with their eyes, not their mouths. Sure, their lips curve up and their teeth show, but take a look and see what I mean: You could cover the bottom half of their face and still tell that they’re smiling.

All this mask-wearing I’ve been doing since coronavirus began to spread has been making me think a lot lately about the power of a smile—a real smile, the kind that lights up your eyes and radiates love. Most communities now are recommending we wear face masks to protect ourselves—and others—from the virus, which spreads largely through respiratory droplets from one person to another. 


Masks are not terribly comfortable, and they tend to fog up eyeglasses and leave interesting dents in your hair, not to mention make us even hotter in the summer than we already are, and they’ve made lipstick-wearing more than a bit obnoxious. It doesn’t matter if they’re cloth masks, the ultra-extra filtered kind, or the N-95s—whatever style you wear, they typically cover your face from mid-nose to chin, with straps tucking behind the ears or all around your head.

There are other drawbacks, too—they muffle sound, so it can be really hard to hear cashiers, bank tellers, and others you’re in conversation with. I’m a bit hard of hearing, so this means any lip-reading I do is now officially out the window when it comes to public exchanges.

But they’re necessary. Masks save lives. They’re a way to love my neighbor, a small bit of self-sacrifice I can do to protect others from any germs I might be carrying (and perhaps me from getting whatever they carry, as well). It’s the responsible thing to do.

Still, for me, the worst part about masks is that it makes the generic social smiling I do incredibly difficult. See, I’m a big fan of smiles in general. My daughter teases me that I even drive my car smiling. Somehow, a smile is the expression that tends to rest on my face. I don’t mind this, even though she says it makes me look a bit loopy sometimes (ha!). That’s because I love what a smile can do for others. It can offer a small bit of friendship in a scary, difficult world. It can encourage someone having a tough day. It can serve as an invitation to talk, or send the message to someone needing a little help: “Go on. It’s OK. You can ask—I won’t bite.”

But now, it sometimes feels like I’m a walking robot as I don my mask and push my cart through the aisles in the grocery store. Everyone’s just wearing their mask, focused on their task, getting in and out of the store as quickly as possible. No more small talk with the people in the checkout line. No more pause-and-chats. It’s all business, or at least it feels that way.

However, a couple weeks ago, standing in line at the grocery and listening to the cashier huff and groan as she swiped items across the scanner and into bags, I could see she was having a hard day. My heart tugged. And suddenly, those smiley-eyed actresses and models popped into my head.

When it was my turn with the cashier, I greeted her with as friendly and sincere a hello as possible. I cocked my head at her and gave her as warm-eyed a smile as I could. My body language instantly felt more relaxed, more expansive, which was an interesting observation.

And I could see the effect it had on her, which was even more interesting. She slowed her pace, then swiveled her head a little my way. We made small talk about nothing and nonsense—the weather, that sort of thing—and then I was on my way.

But it transformed our interaction, this smiling-with-my eyes thing. So I’ve started doing it everywhere I go, and guess what? It seems to have a universal effect. Plus, focusing on letting that joy spill out of me in new and more obvious ways had a surprisingly relaxing effect. It warmed my heart, literally and figuratively.

When we feel joy, it should spread through us and not stop. Our joy in the Lord should explode—into a smile, into our eyes, and keep going! Our whole body should radiate that love and light! Our joy doesn’t depend on emotion—it isn’t rooted in happiness or mere feelings. We can feel joy even in our darkest, most painful hours.


I close with some Scriptures that encourage:

“A cheerful heart is good medicine.” — Proverbs 17:22a NIV

“A happy heart makes the face cheerful.” — Proverbs 15:13a NIV

“Those who look to him are radiant.” — Psalm 34:5a NIV

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
— Romans 5:3-4 NIV

God bless you, and remember to let your light shine always, no matter what. 

That light could draw someone else to Jesus Christ.

~*~
Author Bio:

Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden.


She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism. Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at http://jessicabrodie.com.

She has a weekly YouTube devotional, too. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and more. She’s also produced a free eBook, A God-Centered Life: 10 Faith-Based Practices When You’re Feeling Anxious, Grumpy, or Stressed.

10 comments:

  1. Jessica, I covered your mouth and sure enough, I saw a smile. Love this article. We surely do need to smile during this time.

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    1. Aw, thank you, June!!! I'm smiling right now as I read this. God bless you!

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  2. For the record, Jessica, you have an amazing smile! It's one of the reasons I've enjoyed your new YouTube videos. I also love your story about the clerk; I've been attempting to show Christ to essential workers throughout the pandemic because these are such trying times. They seem to take the brunt of everyone's bad moods, after having to endure changes themselves, including wearing hot masks. Keep smiling, my friend!

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    1. Aw, THANK YOU!!! Love you, friend! I feel for clerks and other essential workers. You are right. They often take the brunt!

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  3. A smile can say so much. Especially a smile that spreads to our cheekbones and eyes. I know the kind. Even facing a hostile situation, a smile can soften the atmosphere. :)

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    1. Ooh, very good point!! Now that I think about it, I remember one time I was in a scary situation, but I smiled at the guy who frightened me, and it diffused things. Maybe it was the smile that did the trick.

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  4. I am noticing how much someone’s eye smile as we wear our COVID-19 mask now. It really does make a difference. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. Beautifully said, Jessica. I've been trying to smile at people in public even with a mask on and wondered if they could tell by my eyes that I was smiling. Smiles go a long way and just being kind in general. We never know what other people may be going through.

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    1. So true! I know people have SO MUCH going on inside, and a smile can really help.

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