I have been thinking lately about how important it is to smile at others and to be kind. It can make a huge difference in a person’s day and even in their life.
I was at the store the otehr day and someone sneered at me or was slightly ugly. This small gesture of unkindness disturbed my inner peace enough that I was feeling a little bad the rest of the day. If I had been someone in an already tumultuous state of mind, it might have led me to make a very poor decision or to do something awful to resolve it. Like what if someone was contemplating suicide or something else awful? Being slightly ugly to someone could just push them over the edge.
Likewise, I can remember several occasions when a stranger has smiled at me or complimented my children or specially made a point of saying something nice to me which has completely boosted my mood and made me feel positive about the world and my possibilities within it. I thank God for such people and ask Him to bless them. It encourages me to be kind to others as well and spread this little example of love to other people. Kindness inspires kindness.
And likewise I believe it could change someone’s life. What if someone in the store had had a terrible day and a stranger made a point of smiling at them or doing some other simple kindness. This could relieve the pain of their day just slightly enough to make them kinder and gentler with their loved ones at home. This could then cause a ripple effect within the family and one kind act could inspire another kind act and another and another.
My strategy in dealing with strangers has heretofore been to avoid eye contact and not speak to anyone, because I am afraid of criticism and of getting hurt by an ugly look from a stranger. But Jesus calls us to something greater. He tells us that love is an act of sacrifice. That it can hurt. Withdrawing from the world to protect ourselves is to choose not to love. To make ourselves vulnerable to injury by being kind to others is to love our neighbor. Even if they bite our head off. Jesus went so far as to say that “Greater love has no man then to lay down his life for a friend.”
Instead of protecting myself by withdrawing from the people I must live around in this world, I wish to try to bring a little joy and healing and love into the world by smiling and being positive.
“Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:16