Have you walked around a grocery store lately? Every one is stomping around with frowns on their faces. They hardly take a moment to look you in the eye, and if they do accidentally, they gaze through you as if you don't exist. No smile. No "I see you". Just an "if I don't acknowledge you on my path then you can't affect me" expression on their faces. My Dad made me a coral pink shirt when I was a kid with the words "IF YOU SEE SOMEONE WITHOUT A SMILE GIVE THEM YOURS" printed on it with white fuzzy letters.
I choose to smile. And if they happen to raise their eyes toward mine, I choose to greet them. Our paths have crossed. I see you there. You are real.
I could very easily get consumed with thoughts of what all these miserable people might be going through. Perhaps someone just got fired or has been unemployed for far too long. Maybe their parent is dying or their spouse filed for a divorce. They might be days from losing their house or going into bankruptcy. Is there even money in their account to pay for the items at the checkout stand? The burdens of this life are overwhelming. So many of us try to carry them alone. We walk into Walmart and scowl at dopey people with smiles on their faces and think "they wouldn't be so happy if they were going through what I am" or "no one knows the stress I am experiencing today". All they want to do is go into the store, buy themselves milk and toilet paper, and be on their way quickly. They don't have time for this. They have issues to take care. They have drama to fix. They have a life to live that does no include Walmart.
What if it did? What if you looked at your life as more than bullet points of big moments but rather millions of little ones? What if your trip to Walmart today had a purpose beyond yourself? What if you saw someone without a hope in the world, at the brink of death, and they were blessed by the light within you? Your smile that says no matter my burden or trial or circumstance today (because we all have them), I choose to live with all joy. I choose to be thankful and shine because my hope is in Jesus.
I was overwhelmed by all the frowns I saw today. Frowns that could not even be met with smiling eyes.
I was in constant conversation with Bundle Boy during our shopping trip about things around him that started with "C". The world is our classroom. We made our way up and down the aisles filling up on a few dinner meals to get us through the end of the month. I pushed the cart to the end of a check out aisle and waited behind two others. A minute later the woman just ahead of me took off in search of a quicker line. I started loading the belt. My turn was up. The cashier (who had a small resemblance to my Bob) started ringing up the first few items without a word to me or a look in my direction. This is not unusual here but today it seemed different. He was flustered. I have been there people. You are working hard at a job and it is going nonstop and people are rude and impatient and you are stressed.
I started the conversation. He acknowledged my presence. I commented on how he was in a zone and should consider taking a breath. He smiled and apologized that they were really busy and he wasn't as quick as some of the other cashiers. "There is no need to be in any hurry," I said. "We are living here in this moment." He commented that not everyone has that attitude. He continued to scan. We chatted some. He looked up each item of produce and confirmed what they were with me. A small line was forming behind me. I could feel their impatience. I am certain he probably could too. The kinds were nearby in the cart when he handed me the receipt. "You are doing a good job, Clayton," I said. "May God bless your day." "Thank you so much," he said. "That means a lot." Bundle Boy hopped on the side of the cart and yelled, "BYE!" with all happiness. We walked away back to our life leaving a bit of light from Jesus' love in that man's day.
Who am I to hoard the hope I have in the LORD? No matter my circumstances, I choose to smile and be thankful. I am forgiven and saved by his grace. That is more than enough to smile about today.