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  1. #1
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    Scared to Death of Smiling

    Scared to Death of Smiling
    by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson


    I ride the Metro bus from downtown Los Angeles out to the Valley. People get off, people get on. No one smiles. No one looks directly at anyone else. Mostly they stare, mesmerized in their own private thoughts. Some anesthetize themselves with earphones that tune them into a different world. If you live in a big city, you understand the averted eyes. You know the fear. So many people, so close together, and scared to death of smiling.

    I see many people on board, some in uniforms, others with packages from shopping. Still others carrying books to or from a class. But no smiles.

    A smile is a sign of humanity. A sign that we are willing to communicate. That our sadness, no matter how deep, will not overcome us. But for many on that bus journey, there is no joy. Their lives, I suppose, are full of pain and hopelessness.
    Trapped.
    Trapped in dead-end jobs they do not like.
    Trapped in a cycle of unemployment and welfare.
    Trapped in marriages.
    Trapped in singleness.
    Trapped in divorce.
    Trapped in widowhood.
    Trapped in life.
    Trapped.
    And without a smile.

    A smile, too, is a sign of hope. Of hope in another person. Of trust. If I smile at you, if I let my personality bridge the distance between us in a packed city bus, perhaps you'll smile back. Perhaps you'll connect with me. And so I smile in hope, and am met with eyes turned away, of body language that protects itself from those closest by, with a posture designed to avoid contact, personal contact, on a crowded bus.

    The lack of a smile is loneliness personified, I guess. It is not letting oneself relate. It is being surrounded, but lonely -- desperately lonely -- yet are afraid to smile, for that would break the loneliness and threaten the solitude. So they do not smile.

    They do not smile, I suppose, mainly out of fear. Fear of me. Fear of the person next to them. They've heard stories of robberies and purse-snatchings, of abduction and rape, of people who are not what they seem. And so they do not smile. Especially on a bus full of people all headed the same direction. They do not smile. They are scared to death of smiling.

    I wonder how Jesus greeted people? With a grave religiosity? With a proper reserve? With a clearly defined distance from soiled humanity? No. He felt the jostling of the crowds. He touched the unclean. He stopped and inquired, "Who touched me?"

    I don't think he was afraid to meet people's eyes with his own. I think he smiled into their soul a smile of hope that would ignite hope within them. A smile of friendship and acceptance to tantalize and then gently unwind that tightly-coiled loneliness. A smile of fearlessness willing to handle our pent-up hostilities and agendas and not-so-pure motives.

    Jesus, I think, is God's smile towards his world, towards his very lonely and divided and fearful world. All heading the same direction on the same crowded bus.

    One Man began to smile and refused to stop until he had the attention of all who dared lift their eyes to his. And then, one by one, the crowd of people began to smile, too, for his was a contagious smile, an open smile. And they began to smile with him in a new and friendly freedom.

    God's smile in Jesus begets faith in us. God's smile through our faces communicates that faith, as well. And that tenuous faith, that hope-filled faith, once rooted in a human heart, produces a joy that cannot suppress an ever-widening smile of its own.
    A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions

  2. #2
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    You are so right about big cities! I am from a small city very south Louisiana. When I was 10, my family went to Chicago to visit my fathers family. We took a train out of New Orleans and had such fun all the way there! The people on the train were very engaging and friendly, what I was used to, being from the South. But when we got to Chicago and rode the bus to my grandparents house, I was very confused as to why no one would even look at us!! I even remember asking my mother why people acted like I was "invisible"! I remember starring at every person on the bus, just to see if they would make eye contact. And no one ever did! Even the very old people! This was our first visit outside of the South and I was very shocked at the frigidness of people who live so close to each other!

    I now live a little further north, (just passed Lake Ponchartrain, north of New Orleans) and I have found that restored friendlyness since Hurricane Katrina! People look you in the eye as you pass them and not only smile, but ask "how ya doin'"! It is so encouraging and helps me through my day! All it takes is "eye contact"!

    Make sure you make "eye contact" with everyone you can in your journeys today! And ask "how you doin'", you will surely recieve such joy and pleasure from this small task!
    Last edited by leapdaybride; 04-18-08 at 08:43 AM.

  3. #3
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    That's so true, I wonder why I never take the time to smile at strangers but thinking about it, they'll probably freak out and wonder why I am similing at them!

    When I was a little kid at school, I used to smile to the other kids and they would smile back and we'd all sit together and talk and share our food and our toys.
    We weren't questioning why we were friendly, we loved it when others cared, when I go to church, the only ones that smile to me is the old people, they are not scared or questioning either, they just wanna be loved.
    we should take some time and smile at others, it can really make so many people feel better, I know it could make me feel better.
    A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions

  4. #4
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    I grew up in a big town 10mins from the largest city in Ireland. i never smiled at anyone unless i knew them really well. When i moved to the country it all changed, people i didnt know would wave at me and smile, at the begining i would just stare back and think weirdos to myself. Now i find myself smiling and waving at strangers it rubs off on you after a while.
    When i first moved up here i use to get really mad at everyone calling my partner Love, hunny, etc now i use those words way too much its catching ya know.

    God Bless and Much Love xoxoxoxox
    Mounty

  5. #5
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    Haha that's funny
    I don't like it either when someone *flirts* with my partner,
    I introduced a boyfriend few years ago to a couple of friends and actually they called him *love* on purpose, not being friendly!
    I was like " Hey, could you just sit next to me, and never ever move? Don't talk to anyone either! "

    You need to make some rules sister
    A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions

  6. #6
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    lol ''sit down dont move and dont talk to anyone'' ,ah ok sister lolololol
    Over here its natural ,my daughter is only four and shes like ''oh hunny how are ya'' lol hanging around her mum to much

    God Bless and Much Love xoxoxoxoxox
    Mounty

  7. #7
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    God's face shining through

    This reminds me of a testimony I'd read in a book about angels appearing on earth and other such miracles.

    In one there was a criminal who testified that he was going to attack, rob, and otherwise harm a woman who had been walking alone to her car -- except that she *looked* at him, and that for just a moment he thought he saw her face disappear and "the face of Jesus" appear in its place. He would have been terrified but the face - smiled - at him. And I rather suspect that was the moment this man laid aside most of his criminal ways (though the book didn't say).

    Isn't it interesting that this man - clearly not on a path "with God" - knew Jesus' face when he saw it? And what a wonderful testimony of Christ's compassion that He would look upon this wicked man and give a smile of pardon to him!

    Human beings are the *only* "animal" on the planet who show our teeth as anything other than a gesture of threat. One of the (many) things that sets us uniquely apart from the animal kingdom is that ability to smile. Even more interesting is that animals that would normally respond to showing teeth as a hostile gesture, respond to *human* smiling as a comforting thing (just go smile at your dog and you'll see what I mean).

    Smiles are *universally* understood across all races, genders, and cultures. We even universally "get" when a smile is being used as a joke, or in sarcasm, or as a flirt etc. There's a whole language just in our faces.

    So remember -- we are made in God's image -- let us be certain to keep our own faces in a pose that glorifies His Love.

    I pray for the day that God's Christians are so deeply in communion with Him that everyone else will look upon our faces and see only Jesus too.
    "And Jesus came and touched them, and said, 'Arise, and be not afraid.'" (Matt 17:7)

  8. #8
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    That's a really good reply, I enjoyed reading every word.
    God bless you sister
    A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions

  9. #9
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    Originally Posted by Janette View Post
    I pray for the day that God's Christians are so deeply in communion with Him that everyone else will look upon our faces and see only Jesus too.
    What a lovely sentiment! Bless you all!

  10. #10
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    to scared to smile

    hi iam fr cape town south africa one thing i know we like to smile many hardships ewe have but you will always here hello or you will get a smile it always make my day when some one smile and if they dont have one they will get one of mine after all it is free

    smile a while and give your face a rest
    raise your hands to THE ONE you love the best
    shake hands with the one nearby
    and greet them with a smile

    we use to sing this in church but mine you i dont remember when last we sing it i hope all the words are right lol GOD bless

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