Going to a new place where you know few people is never easy. Fitting in at a new church can be especially hard. Finding myself in this position last summer, I finally made a decision to help with the children’s ministry on a weekly basis so that I could possibly get to know a few people. And, happily, this did help me feel much less like a stranger when I walked in the church doors every Sunday morning. But little did I know that one of the best things that would result from my weekly service would be my acquaintance with one of the little guys I saw every week.
This little boy, for whatever reason, started giving me a giant “hi!” and a big hug whenever he would see me. He would smile so brightly at me and it would make me feel so much better– no matter what mood I was in. This started many months ago and continues even now when I see him on Sundays, even though we are taking a summer break. Needless to say, he has certainly taken a special place in my heart.
Now, I don’t really know him and he doesn’t really know me, but can I even begin to tell you the warmth that fills my heart when he smiles at me? His smile says to me, “I think you are special!” and his hug says, “I like you!”
You see, he’s a little boy, so I know there are no social mores or hidden agendas behind his smile. I know that his hugs are genuine and his smiles from his heart.
What happens to us as we get older? We may smile, but it often doesn’t reach our eyes. We may even offer hugs, but they are often born out of a sense of duty. Why can’t we freely give smiles and hugs like little children? Why do we have to grow out of this delightful habit?
It’s probably because life teaches us some pretty difficult lessons and we learn that we can’t trust everybody. We become skeptics. We build walls and put on our armor and then cover it all up with a fake smile.
But thinking about this sweet boy who has brought joy to me in such a simple way has made me realize that I, too, can bring joy to others simply by giving them a genuine smile — and even a hug, if the situation is appropriate– making them feel important and loved.
You see, it doesn’t really take money or fame or wisdom or stuff to impress most people. No, most people just want to be loved.
And a genuine smile is a great start to showing that we truly care about others.
As I write, one final thought comes to mind — perhaps we should start giving some genuine smiles to our immediate family members. So often we save our best smiles for friends and acquaintances. Let’s try this week to show our families that we are genuinely glad to see them. What a simple–but effective– way to add some joy to our homes this week.
Are you ready to smile with me this week?