I’m a smiler. I smile at everybody I can.
I wasn’t always this way, though. I used to go through life looking at my shoes. Living in the bubble that modern man has built around himself. Avoiding eye contact whenever possible. Because there was something about meeting somebody else’s eyes that would instantly disarm me. Make me vulnerable in some way. There’s always the chance that they’d throw me a dirty look. Or smirk. Or – and this one’s most likely – they’d look away, every bit as uncomfortable as I was at having invaded someone’s personal space in such a distant – yet intimate – way.
The isolation we live in these days can be overwhelming. Sure, we have social networking to make up the fact that we’re pretty independent, constantly busy, constantly occupied somehow. But I know when I leave home to run errands, go to the Dr., whatever, there’s something that happens. I want close myself off. I want to ignore the mass of humanity around me, to get through my day with as little interaction and as little hassle as possible. And people, we all know, are the greatest causes of hassle.
But one day I got sick of this mindset. It hit me in a massive, “No, duh!” moment that every single one of us is important. Every single one of us was made perfectly by our Creator with purpose and intention. There isn’t a life on this earth that exists on accident – even though sometimes we choose to refer to children that way. All of us are precious. All of us are enduring some kind of struggle. And whether or not we know it, or feel it, all of us are loved, in a way that is simply not fathomable.
Scales started falling from my eyes. I realized the people I was avoiding were just like me: Living life. Struggling in some way. Afraid of a dirty look, a smirk, or a quick glance away that says, “Let’s just pretend we didn’t see each other. Life’s easier that way.”
As people, we all have some pretty basic needs. Food. Clothing. Shelter. But most importantly, love.
I don’t know how to properly love the masses in this world. There are so many hurting folks out there. Hurting in ways that I absolutely cannot relate to. There is so much heartache around this globe and in my own backyard. Most of it I have no idea how to even begin to address.
But I don’t look away anymore. Whether it’s a stranger in the park, a homeless person begging, a barista at my coffee shop, the checker at the grocery store – whoever, whenever, wherever – I meet their eyes and smile. Because deep down, at our most basic level, we are the same. We need love. And it’s such an easy thing to give, even if smiling is just a small, fleeting way to give it.