It’s often been said that you can change a life with just a smile. We may never know how our actions impact those around us, be it within our family, co-worker, or even a stranger. The ripple effects of giving a simple, genuine smile touches, not just the person that you smile at, but it ripples to those around them, the same as a stone cast upon the water.
One thing you may not know about me is that I sing. This has been a huge part of my life, from early childhood, and singing still lives within me today. There is a passion within those that sing, and that passion flows out and manifests in a variety of ways: dancing, clapping–with eyes closed or open–and smiling.
Years ago, I was leading a worship service at my church on a Sunday like most Sundays before and since, but what I didn’t know was that a man had been nervous to attend out of fear of being rejected or judged because, you see, this man had tried to kill himself with a firearm just days before, but for the grace of God, he’d not allowed his pain to go forward with his need to end his life. Unfortunately, he was still gripped with the temptation, and so he went to church in hopes of seeking forgiveness and strength to see it through another day. He’d arrived late, and upon his entry, I’d taken notice of his arrival. He stood near the door, hesitant to move toward a seat, but our eyes met. I knew this man and what he’d attempted to do, and my heart was so full at seeing him standing there that I couldn’t help but give him a smile; the kind of smile that was genuine, the kind of smile that wrinkles your nose, and causes your eyes to squint; a smile that shows the joy and recognition of another human being’s existence.
Months later, this beautiful man approached me and shared with me the impact of what my smile had done for him on that particular day. He said that in that moment my smile released the shame that he’d worn like a shroud…he then felt loved and accepted, which in turn, moved him closer to his relationship with God. That relationship saved his marriage, his relationship with his kids grew, and years later, it saw him through the devastating effects of cancer that eventually took his life, but he was at peace knowing all would be well.
How we treat others matters. What we say, how we respond with our actions–big or small–or how we show compassion, give grace, and express ourselves matters. We don’t know what others are going through and placing judgement with or without knowing their hearts can make a difference in their lives and the lives around them.
It’s easy, it doesn’t cost anything, and it can be given freely and often. Yes, even smiling eyes count. Be kind, and love on others because you never know, you could literally be the difference between life and death.