Even when things are crashing in around me, my nature is to share smiles and kind words.
By Marilyn Mackenzie
The smile or kind word you give to a stranger may not save a life, but it could save someone’s day.
Perhaps you've seen the story about the young man who befriended a kid who was, for some reason, carrying all of his schoolbooks home, and dropped them. Later, when the kid was giving a graduation speech, he mentioned the day their friendship began. He had been planning to commit suicide. He brought the books all home because he had cleaned out his locker. That new friend’s kindness gave him a reason to carry on.
We each have the ability to make a difference in the lives of others every day. Dr. Phil, one of Oprah’s regulars, says there are pivotal people and defining moments in our lives. Often times, a kind word from us will be a pivotal moment in anther’s life. It may be but an instant in time, and one that neither party fully recalls. Yet it can be influential.
I once met a man who answered the standard question, "How are you?" with just one word –"unbelievable!" He said it with enthusiasm. Yet, he explained to me, that word could mean he was unbelievably good or unbelievably bad. Rather than burdening every stranger around him about how he really felt, he brightened their days with that one word. Most responded with a smile or a giggle at his response. I've tried his response, and it does work. But my signature response when someone asks me, "How are you?" is "peachy keen." That makes people smile and laugh as well, and my close friends can tell by the tone of my voice whether or not I truly am "peachy keen" and they can inquire further if they wish.
This Ms. Merry Sunshine wakes up with a sunny disposition. After reading God’s instruction manual and visiting for a time with birds and squirrels outside, I'm ready to face a new day. When my son was young, I'd then go to his room and pull back the curtains to let the sun in. He'd join me in singing "let the merry sunshine in" and reciting a poem that was posted on his door. Part of it said, "have in your heart a word of cheer for all who come your way, and they will greet you too, in turn, and wish you a happy day." Yes, as my son grew up, he thought his mother was a fruitcake. But he indulged me, and sang and recited that poem with me.
Now that my son is 18, he’s suddenly discovered that smiling at another in the grocery store really does result in receiving a smile back. He was thrilled with this revelation recently. I reminded him that I'd been telling him that for years. His response? "It doesn't work on your peers, mom. You have to give the smile to someone older or younger than yourself."
As I pondered that, I realized he just might be right, especially at his age. Smiling at a young lady might make her think he’s interested in her. Smiling at a guy might make him think that he's interested in him. But, a smile from him to the younger kids in our apartment complex makes them venture up to him and want to share what’s happening in their lives. And the smiles he gives older adults makes them think he’s "a fine young man" and they can't wait to tell me so.
For me, sharing cheer comes naturally. Even when my own world is not perfect, when things just seem to be crashing in around me, it’s my nature to share smiles and kind words with those around me. The joy of the Lord is my strength.
...Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.